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Preview of The Innovative Mindset: Improvisation and Business in the 21st Century

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Course Description

This is a free preview (11 minutes) of the The Innovative Mindset: Improvisation and Business in the 21st Century course. The description of the full course (53 minutes) is provided below.

The Innovative Mindset: Improvisation and Business in the 21st Century

The 21st century world is fast-changing and unpredictable. We have to be intentional about building and maintaining a mindset which allows us to focus our time and energy on productive activities, and forward moving innovation if we want to thrive. The innovative mindset of discovery is a set of attitudes and behaviors which were derived from 55+ years of studying, teaching and performing improvisation at the Brave New Workshop, the longest-running satirical and improv comedy theater in the U.S. In this course you will gain insight into the mindset of discovery and its benefits as well as practical tools and techniques to help you spend more time in it. The goal of the course is to increase your ability to weave innovation in your everyday life at work and at home.

We have found that practicing five simple but powerful behaviors, which we call the Big Five, is an effective way to position yourself to spend more time in the mindset of discovery. The Big Five are listening, deferring judgment, reframing, declaring, jumping in.

  • Listening is inherently critical and essential throughout most stages of the innovation process. Listening is about awareness, being present, taking what you think is your ability to hear, see, perceive, and notice, and then cranking it up 100 times. Truly listening can make the person you’re working with feel validated and respected and can help to build trust and create the foundation for innovation.
  • Deferring judgment is the Big Five behavior that perhaps gets mis-interpreted most often. We forget to focus on the word defer and somehow replace it with eliminate or avoid. This behavior is really about that first move – the question of “What is the first thing I do when something new comes my way?”
  • A strong declaration is one that is clear, concise, authentic and rich in content. The declarations we make – and the clarity with which we communicate our ideas, our points of view, and the information that we are trying to share – all can make you and others move from a place of confusion and lack of confidence to a place of safety and engagement. This movement away from fear leads only to the discovery of new information, points of view and ideas.
  • Of the Big Five, reframing feels like one of the most physical behaviors because it’s all about seeing the situation differently. Reframing obstacles, looking at the situation from a different angle, and finding another path toward the solution is a wonderful way to add value to any process. Reframing is an engine that provides a diverse set of perspectives throughout the process continuously and not just when something goes wrong.
  • To jump in can mean a lot of different things depending on our roles, the projects we are working on, or what task we are accomplishing on any given day. It is the beginning. It is the opposite of hesitating because action demands we make decisions. We rarely, if ever, have every conceivable tool or resource, or all the key information on hand before we hit ‘Go.” But enough information is usually sufficient and the truth is, we always feel better once we begin.


After taking this course, you will be able to:

  • Redefine innovation as a mindset and set of behaviors, rather than a process or organizational directive
  • Increase self-awareness of one's mindset
  • Understand the symptoms of the unproductive mindset of fear and recognize them in oneself
  • Gain techniques to shift into a productive mindset of discovery
  • Articulate one's own motivation to foster an innovative mindset
  • Architect an innovation fitness plan that outlines structured practice of the key behaviors that root us in an innovative mindset

This course is for professionals within the following business functions:

  • Anyone that wants to increase their innovation competency and ability
  • Anyone that manages people or wants to manage people
  • Anyone that is committed to their professional development
  • Anyone that seeks to move the needle for their organization's ability to innovate
  • Anyone who aim's to build an innovation-friendly culture
  • Anyone who wants to freshen up their thinking

  1. Welcome to the Innovative Mindset - 5 Minutes

    1. The Innovative Mindset Intro Quiz
    2. A little but about this course and a warm welcome
  2.  Your mindset matters - 13 Minutes

    1. Behavioral Innovation
    2. Improvisation 101
    3. Improvisational Roots of the Innovative Mindset
    4. The Mindset of Fear
    5. The Mindset of Discovery
    6. The Art of Practice
  3.   The Big Five - 25 Minutes

    1. Meanwhile in an office near you...
    2. Listening
    3. Practice LISTENING
    4. Meanwhile in an office near you...
    5. Deferring Judgment
    7. Meanwhile in an office near you...
    8. Meanwhile in an office near you...
    9. Practice DECLARING
    10. Meanwhile in an office near you...
    11. Reframing
    12. Practice REFRAMING
    13. Meanwhile in an office near you...
    14. Jumping In
    15. Practice JUMPING IN
  4.   Wrap up - 10 Minutes

    1. Let's see what you have learned!
    2. Thank you!
    3. Your Innovation Fitness Plan
    4. Would love to hear your feedback!
    5. What next...

About the Expert



Wiley is a global provider of knowledge and knowledge-enabled services that improve outcomes in areas of research, professional practice, and education. Through the Research segment, the Company provides digital and print scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, reference works, books, database services, and advertising. The Professional Development segment provides digital and print books, online assessment and corporate learning services, and test prep and certification. In Education, Wiley provides education solutions including online program management services for higher education institutions and course management tools for instructors and students, as well as print and digital content. For more information, visit
Read more Find out more about Wiley Purchase The Innovative Mindset: 5 Behaviors for Accelerating Breakthroughs
John Sweeney & Elena Imaretska

John Sweeney & Elena Imaretska

As the owner and director of America’s longest running comedy theater, John has honed his powers of improvisation to ignite cultures of innovative behavior within America’s biggest businesses including Microsoft, PWC, General Mills & UnitedHealth Group – resulting in more than 2500 events to date. He is the author of several books, including The Innovative Mindset, published by Wiley. Featured across countless media platforms including Forbes, Inc. and The Financial Times, he uses his well-tested understanding of how human behavior is influenced, to implement simple but groundbreaking tools such as “Yes and…” and “The Big 5” so you too can be at peak innovation fitness. But the driving force behind Sweeney’s success are the results he helps clients achieve by effectively bridging improvisational theater skills and behaviors to the workplace through his speeches and training. His improvisational insights have resonated with a broad spectrum of forward-thinking business leaders from some of the most innovative and largest companies in the world – ensuring every level of the organization is operating within the mindset of discovery. John’s methods have been honed and perfected as a result of over 20 years in the improvisation space – he has seen first-hand, and implemented himself, the practices that allow people to move from a mindset of fear, to a mindset of discovery. Improvisation is the perfect vehicle to work on one’s mindset, because it breaks down complex social interactions, team dynamics and cultural norms to the very basics of humanness and how we collaborate, communicate and create. It is in a way a lab in which we can help people set aside their every-day fears of making a mistake, looking smart or making an impression by creating an environment, in which the rules of interaction are centered around acceptance, openness, recognition, authenticity and laughter – resulting in a hot bed of new behaviors and ideas. Elena Imaretska works at the intersection of arts, business and innovation. She is VP of New Products, Partnerships and Sustainability for the corporate speaking and training business of the Brave New Workshop, the longest running satirical comedy and improv theater in the USA, located in the heart of Minneapolis. Elena spends her days managing programs that focus on the human side of innovation, and specifically the behaviors and mindset needed for employees and leaders to foster an open, inclusive, and nimble culture. She is a strategist, innovative thinker and life-long learner who focuses on maximizing the impact of BNW’s training programs and creating sustainable models for behavioral change. Elena and her team have the pleasure of working with interesting global companies including Cargill, General Mills, UnitedHealth Group, Target, Hilton, Microsoft, and Heineken to name a few. Prior to joining the Brave New Workshop, Elena was raised in Bulgaria, studied in Germany, worked in Japan and received a BA degree at Colorado College, CO and an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. It’s fair to say, she’s been through the ringer on three continents and recognizes the value that new ideas, diversity and different points of view can bring to a company. Elena is also passionate about sustainability and innovating the way we do things to ensure social, economic and environmental prosperity. She heads the Brave New Workshop’s citizenship efforts and has led the formation of a coalition of theaters in the Twin Cities who are dedicated to sustainability. The Brave New Workshop itself is a self-funding arts organization, an innovative model that has worked for 55-plus years entertaining millions of people and launching the careers of many famous alumni, including the first two head writers of Saturday Night Live.
Read more Find out more about John Sweeney & Elena Imaretska