Komunikacijske vještine

Theoretical background

You certainly wonder why we, at the Polytechnic of Zagreb, deal with improvised speech. The Quantum21 journal (published in Croatian), which is supported by the National Competitiveness Council and that promotes science and art of leadership aimed at improving life and work in Croatian companies and institutions, published several interesting articles on the close connection between improvisation and successful business. Those articles appeared in the issue of November 2008 on Music, improvisation and business, and in one of them A. Westelius researches connection between musical improvisation and business and shows that

there are many similarities between the non-full time string quartet and work or project teams. Quartets may assemble for a particular performance, just as a team may assemble for a specific project. For the quartet member, playing is one of many tasks that compete for time and attention, just as the project or team member is only rarely exclusively dedicated to that task. (Westelius, 2001: 4-5).

(International students should refer to the 2001 version of the article published in English in Reflections – the SoL Journal on Knowledge, Learning and Change).

Based on personal experience acquired in amateur theatre group and in the world of business D. Yanow analyses the connection between improvisation and business.

The lessons from improv for workplace practices are transparent. Improvisation will flourish only on the basis of mutual experience built up over time, both in terms of familiarity with workplace practices—the activities that are central to the organization’s or group’s purpose—and in terms of interactive, interpersonal knowledge and reliance.The establishment of collective, practice-oriented familiarity and trust enable improvisatory acts directed toward an organization’s or group’s purpose under conditions that foster other-directed care and undistracted attention to that purpose. Managers can stifle improvisational acts by curtailing opportunities for such conditions to grow. For example, they may constantly rotate personnel on short notice or not encourage the development of teams and teamwork: strangers are not likely to improvise together. I see specific implications of these lessons in three areas:

    1. organisational learning,
    2. research methods, and
    3. teaching and other professional practices (Yanow, 2001: 59-60).

The above mentioned texts give in detail a description of relation between various artistic and managerial improvisations. Within that context it is entirely justified to rehearse a theatre improvisation (also) in the Communication Skills module at the Zagreb Polytechnic. However, the term improvisation itself is burdened with double meaning. On one side, improvisation can imply a skill of successful bridging a gap between some unpredictable difficulties, but on the other, a lack of preparation and of serious approach to work. Yanow firmly rejects the claims that the improvisation implies insufficient preparedness:

Possibly the most egregious misunderstanding about improvisation—whether in a theater setting or in an organization—is the notion that improvised activities are invented on the spot, from scratch, as if in a void, without any preparation and without context. What became clear to me in both the improv and the scene classes is the extent to which improv teams practice together—work together, interact together, and observe one another extensively, over time.(ibid p. 59).

So, improvisation is a positive activity bringing benefit at different organisational levels. If you want to study more thoroughly the connection between music and theatre improvisation and business, we recommend you to read those texts in whole.

At the end, it is important to emphasise that the abillty to deliver an improvised speech can help everyone both in professional environment and private life. However, two classes are far too short time to make significant improvements in your communication. Therefore, the knowledge and skills gained in this practical class you should apply when in some oral exam, in a coffee bar, in the street, at work or at home. Watch the people around you. When preparing a speech, don’t hesitate to take advantage of the given structure of the improvised presentation: it will be equally successful in both prepared and impromptu speeches. You should also write your preliminary exams in the Communication Skills according to the given structure: its successful use will bring you good points. And, perhaps the most important of all, enjoy your freedom of expressing yourself which impromtu speech enables you to do.


Westelius, A. (2001), „On Classical Music and Business – Listening, Leading, Learning“, published in Reflections – the SoL Journal on Knowledge, Learning and Change, 2001, 2:4, MIT Press. Text available here.

Yanow, D. (2001), „Learning in and from Improvising: Lessons from Theater for Organizational Learning“, published in Reflections (2001, volume 2, number 4) by the Society for Organizational Learning and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Text available here.

(Croatian translation of the abovementioned works are listed below)

Westelius, A. (2008). ‘Klasična glazba i biznis: Slušanje, vođenje, učenje’. Quantum21.net: znanost i umjetnost vođenja. Studeni 2008. Članak dostupan ovdje.

Westelius, A. (2008). Klasična glazba i biznis: ‘Slušanje, vođenje, učenje – drugi dio’. Quantum21.net: znanost i umjetnost vođenja. Studeni 2008. Članak dostupan ovdje.

Yanow, D. (2008). ‘Učenje i improvizacija: Iskustva iz kazališta’. Quantum21.net: znanost i umjetnost vođenja. Studeni 2008. ÄŚlanak dostupan ovdje.