The ability to establish collaborative work culture is essential for the best businesses. Modern places of work are becoming more dynamic and less siloed than their traditional counterparts. Kraft-Heinz, which stresses cross-functional interaction and planning, embodies this model. From supply chain to brand build, our ability to drive the sorts of results that make us the largest food company in Canada is predicated on a “as one” mentality- taking opportunities in one part of the business, broadening the search for where we look for solutions, and building on ideas instead of tearing them down.
To be as fast as possible, we have to learn to say “yes and” more, a valuable lesson that the new hires at Kraft-Heinz had the chance to embody during orientation a month ago. We had the opportunity to learn the philosophy of “yes, and” in a Business Improv workshop! As trainees and MBAs entering (and re-entering) the workforce, it was important that we set ourselves up with the right mindset so that we can grow into effective, collaborative leaders.
So what exactly is business improv? As big fans of improv TV shows, we were delighted to learn the foundational teachings of improv and how we could incorporate them into how we do business. We played games that demonstrate the underpinnings of improv and tied them back into business concepts. All the top executives and business schools are doing it. Why? Because at all levels, it helps you be a better leader and contributor.
The seemingly chaotic world of improv teaches you how to adapt, accepting what has happened as fact, and problem solving the road forward. Too often we end up fixating on the past. It makes us rigged and weighs us down. Instead, what improv teaches us is to accept what someone else says as truth and to react to it. In an improv scene, your partner says something that changes your reality you must accept it, move on, and build on it. This stresses the value of being flexible beyond all else.
A game called “Yes, and..” was all about being present, listening before contributing, and building instead of tearing down. We sat in pairs and threw out ideas, to which the other would only be able to reply “Yes! And…” while adding to whatever their partner had said. That encouragement and suspension of judgement helps to establish trusting teams and bubbles the best ideas to the surface that might otherwise remain submerged.
Most importantly, we gained a new sense of confidence that day. We became more confident not only in our own ideas and value, but also in what everyone else had to bring to the table. Improv teaches you that it is okay to throw something half-baked out there. When you do, someone else may help you craft it, and you will end up with something awesome and powerful that you could have never made all on your own.
It’s no surprise that Business Improv is becoming a prevalent part of executive training around the world as both a skill building activity as well as a way to strengthen team dynamics. We, as new hires, are excited to be beginning out new careers at Kraft-Heinz and to have the chance to flex these new tools in our new roles.