JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle) is one of the largest financial and commercial real estate services companies in the world – with over almost 80,000 employees across 300 offices in 80 countries – so when the opportunity to participate in their regional company wide meeting in Mount Pocono this week we were excited for the opportunity.
We were also impressed with their desire to embrace and out-of-the-box activity. Large corporations are often held back by conservative thinking and a desire to do things the way they have always been done, but smart multi-nationals are always trying new things… like having their regional staff spend 90 minutes at the start of a retreat improvising with our team of performer/facilitators.
JLL tasked us with two important missions for our session, which started at 9:00 a.m. (not your typical time for improv comedy, or even applied improvisation, but one we always make work when our clients request it): first, we had to get everyone energized for a fun, productive retreat where they were going to be thinking creatively; and second, we had to work to improve team dynamics by getting the attendees to think about their relationships with co-workers over their individual goals.
Getting a large team from across multiple states to bond is tricky (in this case the participants came from up and down the eastern seaboard). Working with people who have varying lengths of association with an organization is another challenge (we had people with decades of experience, and we also had someone who had started last week). Fortunately, improv is an activity which allows space for failure and teaches valuable lessons as a result of failing. It’s also an activity in which people can rapidly improve, even over the course of a single session.
Just before everything started we overheard one of the participants saying to another that “high powered brokers don’t have time for this…” but by the end of our session the same pair of men wanted to continue the conversation with one of our facilitators during a break in their day as we were packing up to leave – talking about connections they saw between the exercises we had done and the work they engaged in on a daily basis. This is always a sign we have broken through with individuals, and it’s also part of the design of our sessions. We try to leave participants with an experience they will continue to think about and learn from in the days after their actual face time with us.
If you’d like to chat about how we can kick off your next retreat, or how bringing applied improvisation to your workforce can provide valuable and fun experiential learning that continues to resonate after a workshop is over, contact us and let’s start a conversation.