News from the Chicago Chapter

Improv Exercise Leads to Effective Team Building Tactic: IREM 2018 Midwest Regional Meeting Recap

Posted by [email protected] on 05/23/2018 12:00 am  


By Scott Sommerville, CPM®
Sanders Commercial Real Estate, Inc. 
IREM Chicago Executive Council


Last week, I had the privilege of attending the 2018 IREM Regional meetings in Indianapolis. The conference offered an opportunity to meet and interact with other real estate professionals from around the Midwest. There also were staff members from IREM Headquarters in attendance, and I enjoyed meeting them and learning more about their roles within IREM. It was a great opportunity to get to know the members of the IREM Chicago Executive Council better while we tried to keep our 15-passenger van from blowing off the highway while in transit to Indianapolis!

There was quality educational content presented throughout the conference, but one session was especially impactful to me. The Second City Works group provided a session on how various concepts they use in their improv team training can transfer into a better organizational culture. They explained that the most important ingredient to building world-class improvisational comedy is to throw unwavering support behind any idea that their teammates create. This support allows the team to build upon that idea with another idea; that in-turn also receives support from the team. The process continues until the group has collectively created a dramatic scene, or a compelling story, or a brilliant punchline.

However, this creation could not have been built if, somewhere along the way, a teammate denied an idea or did not allow an idea to grow. They explained that many of the best ideas they ever arrived at came three or four ideas into a scene. These moments of comedy would not have been discovered without this collaborative and supportive process.

The Second City Works presenters used the following quote to describe this process: “Bring a brick, not a cathedral.” Improv comedy is risky, and it’s challenging. Not many people are willing to jump on stage with no script and then try to create something that others will find entertaining. In this way, the concept of only needing to bring a brick is quite liberating. It is the team that builds the cathedral; you only need to contribute bricks along the way.

I thought this was tremendously insightful, and it can be applied to teams in any context, IREM included. As a member of a team, whether at your company or elsewhere, you can be most effective by supporting ideas shared by others and by contributing bite-sized ideas of your own. No one needs the pressure of creating the entire cathedral by themselves. Rely on your teammates in a supportive and collaborative way, and the results that you achieve will amaze you.