Planting the Seeds for Trust and Teamwork with Organizational Improv™
- Cambridge, MD
(#Tags)communication, cross-department collaboration, diversity and inclusion, innovation and creativity, organizational development, team building, vision and values
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF) are nonprofits dedicated to protecting our planet and its inhabitants.
As an advocacy group, they were facing a consequential election year marked by environmental concerns as well as significant societal challenges around inclusiveness. With a renewed focus on their internal culture and organizational values, they wanted to take action to ensure everyone on the team felt truly included and heard.
After three years of toying with the idea of adding improv exercises to their annual retreat, they were finally ready to take the leap. Past retreats had focused on pragmatic activities that made the retreats feel more like work meetings. But this time the organizers wanted to carve out more space to build community and trust. With staff members coming together from all over the country for their retreat, they decided our Organizational Improv™ workshop would be the perfect team-building experience to augment their itinerary.
“This was more engaging than a feedback meeting or survey and actually made me feel valued. I enjoyed thinking about what values are important to me, what kind of workplace I want to be a part of, and how I want to engage with my coworkers.”
We kicked off the retreat with an overview of Organizational Improv™: what it is, why it works, and how it helps teams. Then we jumped right into some quick-thinking, on-your-feet exercises with the entire 100- person group!
Next, we broke out into smaller groups of 20-25 people, with each group led by a Mindhatch Organizational Improv™ Facilitator.
The breakout groups had fun trying out imaginary ball pass, invisible tug of war, and making people sculptures. Every physical and mental improv challenge primed them for sparking new ideas and collaboration.
Then, we took that energy and directed it toward the main event: brainstorming organizational values. In these smaller, cross-team groups they could contribute ideas in a trusted space. Finally, we brought all the smaller groups back together to share their experiences, build a shared list of ideas, identify consistent themes, and (of course) wrap things up with more improv fun as one team.
The organizers were pleasantly surprised by how enthusiastically everyone embraced the playful activities. Amid plenty of laughter, they realized this was a much-needed break from the “heavy” nature of a lot of the work they do together, and an opportunity to engage with each other in a new way.
“For me it was just about humanizing my co-workers. The nature of our work requires intensity, and to lift that felt really great.”
Participants stepped outside their comfort zones in order to become more vulnerable as they continued to build trust and authentic connections during the activities. The team is excited to see how this new shared understanding will open them up to more inclusive, creative problem-solving going forward.
“Having a specific time where everybody was faced with being vulnerable together made this a good bonding moment.”
In addition to being able to take what they learned back to their day-to-day work, participants found that the experience opened them up to being more engaged and productive over the course of the retreat itself. The unique experience created a feeling of true camaraderie that helped them better appreciate and learn from each other.
Participants also told us that the workshop highlighted the importance of skills often undervalued in the professional world: authentic communication and empathy. Their teamwork quickly improved as they found themselves becoming more welcoming to new ideas and more ready to jump in and help.
“It was fun to have fun with my colleagues! It’s important to take time to be present, put away the devices, and listen to people.”
By combining play and laughter with work, participants felt more open to taking chances and being creative. They walked away with a renewed commitment to team building and the power of fun, open dialogue, and experimentation.
As a result, they’re excited to put everything they learned toward the hard work of saving the world.
80% of participants said they planned to use the skills they learned in their work life or their personal life (60% said BOTH).
To what extent did the workshop meet expectations and objectives, and achieve desired outcomes?
Do you feel you and your organization got value for your investment?
“In an ensemble, the roles can change and flex, initiations can be made by anyone, and the outcome is a group responsibility, not an individual’s.”