Prepared for the unexpected

We live in a world that is currently undergoing major changes. Many of our previous plans can no longer continue in this form and we are faced with the challenge of acting in the here and now. Improvisation means dealing with the unforeseen ("improvisus" - the unforeseen). 

In our applied research project "Organizational Improvisation", we investigate the mindset and skills of experts in the arts, science, and business and provide current activities on this website. The aim is to better understand the ability to improvise in different contexts, including improvisational theater, jazz, creativity and innovation, entrepreneurship, as well as emergency forces. 

How do experts "think on their feet", playfully adapt to changing situations and radically collaborate for real-time creativity? These scientific findings will be applied for entrepreneurial purposes to be prepared for the unexpected.

Interview with Lukas Zenk about the project ("The ability for professional improvisation")

Video-Interviews with experts (YouTube Channel)

Ressources on Improvisation (Publications, Videos, Blogs)

Even more ressources on improvisation (curated by Ted Klein, Boston Strategy Group)

AINx-Talk 2022

AINx Talk: Stories of Improvisation by Lukas Zenk

Presentation at the Applied Improvisation Network Conference

University Courses on Business Improvisation

In the course (May 25-29, 2021), international experts from the arts, science, and business conducted highly interactive online sessions to teach the mindset and methods for professional improvisation. The basis of improvisation is found in the arts (theater, music), however, in Business Improvisation it is applied for entrepreneurial purposes to better deal with unexpected situations. For the research project, all lecturers were additionally interviewed to give a deeper insights into their field of expertise. 


Business Improvisation 2021

Aretha Sills (Improvisational Theater)

Theater Games by Viola Spolin

Theodore Klein (Boston Strategy Group)

Improvisation from a Business Perspective

Susanne Schinko-Fischli (Trainer and Author)

Improvisation and Facilitation

Raquell Holmes (ImprovScience)

Inclusive Environments

Sean Mulvihil (Actor and Director)

Documentary on Applied Improvisation

Kay Ross (Trainer)

Positive Changes

Patricia Madson (Stanford University, Author)

Improv Wisdom

René Mauer (Professor at ESCP Business School)

Deciding in uncertainty

Barbara Buzanich-Pöltl (Beratergruppe Neuwaldegg)

Agile Transformations

Jay Reid (The Making-Box)

Connect and build trust

Lorenz Gareis (Roland Gareis Consulting)

Agility and Project Management

Nancy Watt (Nancy Watt Communication)

Deep Listening

Interviews at the Peter Drucker Forum

Alex Osterwalder (Strategyzer, Business Model Canvas)

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Screwing up to get better over time. Alex Osterwalder, co-founder of strategyzer and inventor of the Business Model Canvas, shows why constant experimentation is crucial to innovate. Entrepreneurs are constantly improvising and adapting to new and unexpected situations. But it is not about talent, it's about taking risks and gaining experience to create something new.

Vinton Cerf (Co-Founder of the internet)

Unknown future

Vinton Cerf, Vice President & Chief Internet Evangelist at Google and co-inventor of the Internet, demonstrates how to prepare for an unknown future. He shows the design of systems to cope with sudden changes in the environment and highlights tipping points of technological change, from newspapers to the Internet. He concludes that in the future, it is not only learning that is critical, but also understanding how to learn quickly in order to adapt. 

Amy Edmondson (Professor at Harvard University)

Psychological Safety

Amy Edmondson, Professor at Harvard Business School, explains the essential core elements of psychological safety. Instead of the "command and control" mindset of some managers, she demonstrates the concepts of fearless organizations and how to perform under uncertainty.

Edivandro Conforto (Managing Director at Accenture)

Capabilities for organizational change

How do you solve business problems that you could not foresee? Edivandro Conforto, demonstrates, how organizations deal in dynamic environments, using the mindset of improvisation. After doing research at MIT he now works as a Managing Director at Accenture.

Johan Roos (Chief Academic Officer of HULT)

(LEGO) Serious Play

Johan S. Roos, Chief Academic Officer of HULT & Co-Inventor of LEGO Serious Play, demonstrates how to make the process of strategy making more innovative. Instead of just dreaming about the future we have to become aware of what is happening right now. For this, we need a different state of mind to improvise, play with new scenarios, and develop real-time strategies.

Michael Gelb (Author of several creativity books)

The Alexander Technique

Michael Gelb, author of various creativity books, demonstrates physical reactions when dealing with fear. People typically take a defensive stance when being afraid. Using juggling as an example, he shows how to relax in stressful situations.

Business Improvisation 2020

Prof. Ralf Wetzel (Organization & Arts, Clown)

The power of PLAY in societal disruption

University Website

Prof. Barbara Tint (Conflict Resolution, President of AIN)

Improvisational Collaboration and Conflict Resolution

University website 

Prof. Gerald Steiner (Dean at Danube University Krems)

Real-world problems and innovation

University Website 

Simon Severino (CEO, Strategy Sprints)

The Strategy Sprint. How to maximize your ROL (Return on Luck) 

Paul Z Jackson (Trainer & Co-Founder of AIN)

Applying principles of improvisation in your life and work 

Prof. Keith Sawyer (Creativity & Improvisation)

Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration

University Website

Agnes Zenk (Trainer, Coach, Actress)

Psychological Safety - Vulnerability and Courage at work 

Kat Koppett (Trainer, Consultant, Performer)

Story on the Spot: Using Improvisational Storytelling Skills for Influence, Problem-solving and Connection

Prof. Miguel Pina e Cunha (Organizational Theory and Behavior)

Organizational Improvisation

University Website

Prof. Wolfgang Stark, Christof Zürn and Lutz Hempel (Organization & Music)

Strategic Business Improvisation and Music

Prof. Dan Klein (Lecturer at Stanford University)

Playful Work

University Website

Dr. Gunter Lösel (Lecturer at Zurich University of Arts)

Gabriele Amann (Trainer & Entrepreneur)

Organizational and Individual Resilience in Dynamic Environments 

Prof. Lukas Zenk (Innovation & Networks, AIN Board)

Creativity & Innovation: the mindset of improvisation

University Website  

Elger Oberwelz (Executive Design Director at IDEO)

Culture of Creativity and Play at IDEO

Aretha Sills (Improvisational Theater)

Theater Games by Viola Spolin