Be Present. – Coonoor Behal
Some of the most iconic comedians to the millennial generation (i.e. Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Joan Rivers) have built incredible careers on their early careers in improv. While it’s most common use is to entertain in shows, like Saturday Night Live, one millennial has harnessed the power of improv to help her clients gain a more collaborative perspective on their work life. Improv comedy is centered on the ability to communicate and innovate with others. By learning how to accept the creativity in others and use it to build a story, improv comedy can often adjust the way we see working with others. But how can improv principles be used build better organizations, better communities?
Offering services in design thinking, innovation facilitation and organizational improv, Mindhatch is impacting the way team members collaborate with each other. She does this by walking groups through a variety of games and then moderates a debrief with the group. No session is ever the same as she tailors her workshops to the needs of each client.
For Coonoor what inspires her most is seeing her clients’ moments of clarity, where she can see them actually shifting in their perspective. The most noteworthy moments have taken place during the games, “Yes, And…” and “Solution Circle.” Although each game has a unique approach, both games are used to teach what happens when we justify other’s ideas. “Spoiler alert, everyone immediately recognizes that more ideas and more fun happen when we say ‘Yes!” Learning how to engage and support, even the craziest of ideas has allowed participants to experience a collaborative and innovative culture. That type of culture, often attributed to hip tech companies not non profits or traditional companies, can be applied to any work environment. As Coonoor demonstrates, it is simply a change in mindset.
But, Coonoor wasn’t always crafting improv inspired ways to foster collaboration. In fact, Coonoor started her professional path by searching for a way to impact the world. By obtaining a Master’s in International Affairs, Coonoor then chased her dream of creating change in the world with her first job at a non-profit. Stifled by the inflexibility that often comes with grant funded work, Coonoor left the non-profit world to work as a consultant with Deloitte Consulting. Through a variety of projects, Coonoor grew within Deloitte and perfected her abilities in a variety of ways, specifically design thinking. Her most significant experience came Coonoor landed an opportunity to work with the Deloitte Global Innovation team. With Deloitte Global Innovation, she helped clients find the connections between business and creativity.
At the same time, Coonoor began taking improv lessons in her spare time. She quickly discovered her talent and passion for improvisational comedy. Inspired by improv and finding a market demand from her work at Deloitte, Coonoor began to feel like she was ready to start her own business. By “focusing on merging business and creativity through design thinking, organizational improv and facilitation” Coonoor was ready to launch Mindhatch.
With Mindhatch, Coonoor has built a diverse clientele list and creates unique tools for each one to help her clients address their most pressing needs through experiential learning. For example, one of her clients wanted to master the art of going “off script” at donor meetings. Using the principles of improv, together they were able to build up that’s client confidence in that skill as well as engaging in more informal conversations with donors. Another wanted to set the right foundation for her new team. Desiring a creative and innovative team dynamic, Coonoor designed a workshop that helped them set that tone. Through Coonoor’s work, her clients have been able to sharpen their abilities in connecting and working with other people .
Looking back, Coonoor’s winding journey had many stepping stones leading her to start Mindhatch. Like many millennials, she is driven by the need for impactful work that allows her to be challenged and creative. By starting her own business, Coonoor has been able to meet her professional needs and in turn , is creating value for communities actively looking to change things up.