About AIM


What is AIM?

What is AIM?

Applied improvisation (AIM) is an emerging field that applies the principles of improvisational theatre to other contexts. When taught through a specialized, experiential learning program led by a proficient instructor, participants learn specific types of thinking that can be implemented even by those new to improvisation.

 Boston Strategy Group—the first professional consulting firm to specialize in AIM—is focused on bringing professionalism to an innovative new market that remains fragmented. To fuse AIM experts to serve organizations throughout New England, we have developed programs to enhance the abilities of individuals and organizations to react in the moment, adapt to the unexpected, and navigate complex challenges without the assistance of a script. We treat the principles of AIM with the seriousness that they deserve, and in doing so, we aspire to elevate the field’s reputation through consistently high-quality programs supported by exhaustive research.

Training Modality

Applied Improvisation (AIM) is a training and facilitation modality using principles of improvisational theatre and applies them in other contexts to develop people’s capacity to improvise, adapt, move without a script and be effective in the unknown

Theater Origins

AIM emerged from theatre studies and has now moved into humanitarian and psychosocial practice.  The Literature offers a myriad of descriptions of these principles and skills they support (Gesell 1997; Halpern, Close and Johnson 1994; Johnstone 1992; Koppett 2013; Poynton 2008; Ryan-Madson 2005; Spolin 1999; Tint 2015).

Dealing with Uncertainty

The ability to confidently improvise – use existing skills and knowledge with available resources to respond in the moment – is a capacity worth developing in contexts dealing with uncertainty and change.

Experiential Learning

AIM may be perceived as just playing, yet the playful activities themselves are a vehicle for learning and developing vital skills and understanding the improvisational principles. Facilitators will use the activities with different goals in mind.  In most AIM work, activities and exercises are used intentionally to explore multiple dimensions of experiential learning through three stages of preparation, participation and debrief. For participants, this opens up possibilities for different ways of engaging, thinking and feeling

Frequently Asked Questions

AIM is an experiential learning process that enhances leadership competencies. It involves applying improvisational theatre principles to various fields, including business communications, public speaking, problem-solving, personal development, team building, and countless others.

As an academic field, AIM began gaining traction in the 1990s, though our ancestors understood the power of improvisation to communicate stories and ideas tens of thousands of years ago. The modern architects of AIM are widely considered Keith Johnstone and Viola Spolin, whose similar philosophies about the power of improvisational techniques brought credibility and seriousness to improv that had mainly been absent prior.

The critical distinction between applied and comedic improvisation lies in the application and purpose. Comedic improv encourages participants to listen to their team members, accept and make “offers” of information to progress a scene and adapt to the situation that has been presented instead of the one that might have been initially desired. These techniques are certainly components of AIM, though the singular purpose of comedic improv is to entertain. On the other hand, AIM focuses exclusively on re-purposing improvisational techniques in a professional setting for improved organizational performance.

AIM can vastly improve the community, institutional, and individual capabilities through enhanced communications, economics, education, ethics, marketing, organizational, personal responsibilities, quality, and work. When applied correctly and taught by an AIM specialist, a participant in an AIM program can improve their skills in leadership, emotional aptitude, team development, collaboration, innovation, and communication.

Everyone! Our focus is on bringing AIM programs to organizations in information technology, life sciences, manufacturing, higher education, and financial services. Professionals in these industries will be served with specialized AIM programs to address the key issues facing everyday business.

Research Institutes

Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University

The Alan Alda Center emerged in 2009 as a collaboration between Hollywood icon Alan Alda, Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Researchers at the center are focused on improving scientific understanding through research, education, and training founded on applied improvisation principles.

International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation

Hosted by the University of Guelph in Ontario, this institute conducts vital research into the widespread benefits of improvisation as a tool for social change. The pillars of the institute’s research are Improvisation, Intermediality, and Experimental Technologies; Improvisation as Practice-Based Research; and Improvisation for Community, Health, and Social Responsibility. The institute publishes a peer-reviewed journal titled Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation with their latest findings.

Danube University Krems

In partnering with the Vienna Cognitive Science Hub and the University of Vienna, Danube University Krems is currently working on a multi-year research project focused on the uses of applied improvisation for organizations. The project is spearheaded by assistant professor Dr. Lukas Zenk. It seeks to release scientific findings related to applied improvisation concepts and how these findings can strengthen organizational structure.

University of Basel

More than 500 years of history makes the University of Basel not only the oldest university in Switzerland but one of the most storied on earth. The influential university has funded “The Pragmatics of Fictional Dialogues in Improvised Performance,” a five-year research project. The language used in theatrical improv performances is being analyzed to understand it from a purely linguistic perspective. This detailed research aims to further our collective understanding of spontaneously-produced fiction like improv and how communicators can harness the power of improvisational language.