Unlike more traditional improv classes and workshops, iMergence uses improvisation techniques not for comedy or theatrical outcomes, but to help both groups and individuals in terms of increasing confidence, enhancing communication, maintaining ease in the unknown, comfort in having to pivot and think on one’s feet, and strengthening trust between the team all at the same time.
It can appear deceptively simple on the outset but don’t be fooled — improv provides the fast track to acquiring valuable skills and an outlook that all companies can benefit from immensely.
In 2011, iMergence was founded by Holly Mandel, who studied and taught improv at the world-renowned Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles, and then went on to start her own improvisation school in New York City, Improvolution.
She began working with students who wanted to bring improv into their companies after seeing the many benefits of improv themselves. So, she created a separate arm of her business, iMergence, which is the integration of improv (“I”) and “emergence”: using the tools of improvisation to build and allow for higher levels of creativity and collaboration to emerge in individuals and groups. And best of all it is deceptively fun!
Since then she has continued to develop a unique, interactive training process which activates the conditions for greater autonomy, creativity, ownership, and innovation. She has studied organizational change, various models of business & systemic development, and transformation within a culture.
Mandel has worked with companies such as Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, CNN, Toyota, Adidas, and Digitas. She has been sought out about her work in the corporate arena by conferences, universities, and the media...all recognizing the trend of using improv to improve individual skills and group dynamics in businesses who want to get on and stay on the cutting edge.
MORE ABOUT HOLLY
founder and Executive Director of iMergence, founder of Improvolution Improv School in New York City & LA, The Groundlings Theater Company alumna, Pace University professor
Holly and her team offer a unique and cutting-edge approach to corporate education, collaboration, and development.
She has worked extensively with both groups and individuals on leadership training and team dynamics, creating the conditions for greater autonomy, creativity, ownership, and innovation.
Her degree is in both psychology and sociology (UCLA); she has studied organizational development, collective creativity & innovation, and leadership development - for women especially. Holly has also spent many years within the corporate world: at Disney Pictures in feature development; at ABC television in the marketing and advertising department; and at Comedy Central as a writer/producer.
Lastly, and what sets her apart from most corporate educators, is the training and experience she received in improvisation with the very best in the industry - The Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles. It boasts alumni that are both past and current Saturday Night Live cast members, and the very best comedy performers in television and film today. She became one of the most senior instructors and directors there before moving to New York to start her own school and training institution, Improvolution. She also teaches improvisation at Pace University as well as having created the Comedies Studies BFA program there.
She has given her original lecture and workshop series, GOOD GIRLS AREN'T FUNNY, around the U.S. and abroad which uses the field of comedy as an example as well as an analogy for women's relationship to confidence, leadership, and perfectionism. She has also developed a talk about GENDER EXPECTATION & ITS EFFECTS ON LEADERSHIP, CONFIDENCE & INNOVATION.
This unique combination of backgrounds and experience has given Holly an insight on how groups function within a larger company and how corporate cultures are shaped and influenced.
The power of improvisation is two-fold: it’s hands-on and experiential, and it’s also deceptively fun -- while on the surface it seems to be merely a ‘break from the norm’ and a way for people to get to know one another better, it actually addresses core issues in people and in groups. Thereby making real, beneficial development happen and stick.
Holly has worked with a wide array of groups including CNN, Wells Fargo, Digitas, Money magazine, Merrill Lynch, Deloitte & Touche, Bloomberg News, and animators from The Walt Disney Studios using improvisation techniques specifically designed for the needs of each group.
ARTICLES ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF IMPROV IN BUSINESS:
SLATE: Getting to "Yes, And" (feat. Holly)
NPR: When the Art of the Deal Includes Improv Training (feat. Holly)
FAST COMPANY: Why Top Companies And MBA Programs Are Teaching Improv
INC.COM: Make Me an Offer I Can't Refuse: How Improvisation Can Help You Sell (Whether That's Your Job Or Not)