Training firm’s improv techniques spur one new job, 12 percent growth

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

Mary Jane Pories founded Fishladder Inc. in Grand Rapids nine years ago to train companies and individuals how to solve problems on their feet by learning tools and techniques used in improvisation. Last year, the company logged nine percent growth, 12 percent this year and, in September, the company will add a third employee.

“Because we are growing, there is opportunity out there I’ve not been able to take advantage of,” says Pories, who, up until now has handled all of the training sessions herself.

“So I’m bringing on Alex Ritzema, who has such a passion for this work and an extensive background in manufacturing and Human Resources. He’s gone to Chicago for The Second City's training every week for two years. He’ll be expanding the opportunities for the company, doing training, coaching and performing in our shows.”

Pories notes that with the emphasis in the marketplace on innovation and innovative thinking, workers, managers and company leaders must be skilled at thinking on their feet and collaborating effectively.

“True improvisation is very collaborative because your primary goal is to make each other look great,” she says, “whether it’s in stage performance or to a customer or a fellow teammate or while working on a new product.”

Diversification of its training services is Fishladder’s next step as the company prepares to move into its tenth year.

“One of the problems with training is that you go in and you leave, and it’s hard to help people practice their new skills,” Pories says. “To learn how to improvise you have to practice it. So we’re developing ways to help companies use these improvisation tools internally to bring about real culture change.”

Source: Mary Jane Pories, Fishladder, Inc.

Deborah Johnson Wood is the development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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