For most people, professional development events can be described in myriad ways based off some of their firsthand experiences: obligatory, inconsequential, unnecessary perhaps? In some unfortunate examples, well-intentioned managers and department heads will return to the office and attempt to implement tools and theories that they may have had trouble staying enthused about themselves when they were at the event.
Enter Boundless, YGS’ innovative professional development series based on proven improvisational methods—an interactive professional development opportunity aimed at keeping attendees energized long after they leave the session. Not to worry—this isn’t a performance, and no one is expecting anyone’s stage fright to be cured. Attendees simply collaborate with a small group of their peers through fun and applicable exercises that can help professionals approach challenges and pursue objectives in more modern and strategic ways.
“The principles of improv really do align with the same principles that make or break successful organizations: innovation, ideation, problem-solving, leadership, collaboration,” says Lish Ephraim, The YGS Group Director of Marketing and Brand Strategy and the thought leader behind Boundless. “We want to provide innovative opportunities to folks who are seeking new and interesting ways of learning through nontraditional professional development.”
Sure, improv is fun, but it also fosters and rewards personal and professional growth. In fact, Stanford University, Columbia University, the University of Virginia, and many other top graduate business programs have been making use of improv as a business tool.
“We make a point to let people know in advance that these sessions aren’t traditional professional development events where you’re spoken at for a long time,” adds YGS Marketing Manager Kali Eskew. “Yet, attendees still come surprised that they’ll be standing and participating throughout the session. I think that really says something about how uniform and unimaginative professional development events have become.”
The business professionals and thought leaders who attend Boundless events value collaboration and understand that using adaptable methods of problem-solving create better-equipped professionals who can adjust to simultaneous demands and shifting priorities. Natalie Zundel, executive vice president of the ASCE Foundation, wrote about her experience at the Boundless event The YGS Group presented at the ASAE Annual Conference in Detroit last fall. “This was hands-down the best session of the entire week,” said Zundel. “Very quickly I realized honing my improv skills would make me more nimble and attentive when in a donor meeting or reception.”
Professional development events or workshops are usually attended by individuals from various industries and backgrounds, so customization is essential. With this in mind, Boundless sessions encourage open discussion, suggestions, and feedback from each group during exercises within the session. “We have to think about the fact that we’re asking participants to ask their supervisors if they can seemingly ‘go play’ for three hours,” says Ephraim. “We need to make sure that, based on the feedback, we customize each session so participants can go back to the office and say to their bosses: ‘I learned X, Y, and Z and here’s how it’s applicable, and can really help us here.”
For more information or to bring a #YGSBoundless event to your organization, visit The YGS Group.