Using Improvisation in Organisations: an exploration into 'Making it up as you go along!'

A highly enjoyable and interactive day spent first playing with the simple rules of thumb that underlie improvisational comedy (‘Improv’), then discussing the available literature on improvisation in organisations and finally planning how to take and implement the learning from the day back into participants’ normal working lives.

09:00 Registration
Workshop starts
16:45 - 17:00
Workshop ends


Target audience

Anybody interested in improvisational comedy (‘Improv’) and its potential as a tool for improving leadership, creativity, teambuilding, presentational skills and the way people understand and change their behaviour at work.

Psychological theory underpinning the workshop

Mary Crossan (and colleagues) has demonstrated that improvising techniques can be transferred into businesses to develop skills that make a real contribution: fostering teamwork, assessing organisational culture, cultivating leadership, crafting strategy, and interpreting the environment. She argues that improvisation contains elements of both creativity and spontaneity, but that these elements can exist independently. She further relates these elements to the levels of uncertainty and time pressure present in organisations.

Mirvis (1998) provides a set of paradoxes that he believes underpin successful improvisation in jazz and argues that these paradoxes are highly relevant to organisations. The concept of paradox in organisations has been talked about elsewhere, most notably by Chris Argyris, who sees the acknowledgement and study of behavioural paradox as essential to understanding organisations (1985, 1999).

Vera & Crossan (2005) carried out a study in the US. They assigned half the sample to receive improvisation-based training and collected data pre- and post-training on a number of organisational variables. Overall, the results supported most of their hypotheses, with all but one of the proposed moderating variables (memory) showing a positive moderating effect on the link between improvisation and innovation.

Learning outcomes and objectives

  • play improv games that demonstrate some uses and principles of improvisation in organisations
  • describe current theories and studies in the literature relating to improvisation in organisations
  • plan how to use improvisation in an intervention or programme


Julia Knight is an independent Chartered Occupational Psychologist who has 15 years of experience working extensively with organisations in the public, private and third sectors. Since working independently Julia’s work has primarily focused on three areas of work: developing individuals and teams, designing bespoke selection and assessment processes, and supporting performance management programmes.

Areas of expertise include the design and delivery of tailored training courses for specific skills (e.g. communication skills, assessor skills, and stress management), the develop of bespoke assessment exercises, and the design and delivery of creative development interventions.

As an active member of the British Psychological Society, Julia was a member of the Promotions and Publications Sub-Committee from 2003-2008.


Harry Puckering provides a bespoke training and facilitation service to organisations: from learning needs analysis, through programme and event design and delivery, to post-learning assessment and evaluation. Harry’s greatest strength is in the facilitation of learner development in a highly interactive environment. He is good at the analysis and presentation - in writing or in person - of complex information, in formats to suit audience’s differing backgrounds and expectations. He is a funny and relaxed soft-skills trainer.

Prior to his career in training and development Harry spent 13 years as a manager and commissioning editor in two Thomson Corporation business-to-business publishing companies, nferNelson and Jane’s Information Group.

Harry is a Graduate Member of the BPS and an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Booking Details

Workshop fees

  • DOP Members: £220 (+VAT)
  • BPS Members: £260 (+VAT) 
  • Concessions: £100 (+VAT)
  • Others: £345 (+VAT)

Persons eligible for concessionary rate are student members of the Society, graduate members registered under Rule 15.ii, Rule 21 members, and members who are unemployed. For evidence of unemployment, we will require a copy of your job seekers allowance book.

How to book


Society's London Office

30 Tabernacle Street



Thu, 03/11/2011 -
09:00 to 17:00
BPS Learning Centre