Our Road to Growth & Belonging: Team Equity & The Power of Mistakes

Comments from Brooke Cartus

When I share with clients that I’m the Director of Growth & Belonging, I often get the question, what does that title mean? And, what does it have to do with improv?

Let’s start with ‘belonging’ and why corporations are talking about moving from engagement or diversity to belonging.

What does it mean to belong?

Belonging is primal and fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being.

A study by the Turner Consulting Group found that many organizations miss the mark when striving for inclusive spaces by focusing exclusively on diversity and not thinking more broadly about creating an inclusive culture.[1]

How can improv support belonging?

When we collaborate with organizations to create sustainable Growth & Belonging programs, our focus is two-fold: create a space for Team Equity, and drive growth through another improv principle: Oops to Eureka!

Step 1: Team Equity

On the improv stage, the more different we are, the more we belong.

That is Team Equity. We know leaning on the talents of people who bring very different skills is critical for success – and we delight ourselves and our audience with the unexpected! The key here is that great improvisers make room for differences, and support everyone’s place on that stage.

We belong…together.

A key improv concept, Team Equity is the driver of excellent ensemble and teamwork. In creating spaces of belonging, Team Equity moves teams from a place of tentative support to true acceptance and allows innovation to flourish.

Step Two: Oops to Eureka!

Oops to Eureka on the improv stage means having the space to make mistakes. That space is created and sustained through team trust. When a mistake is made (and a mistake will always happen), the individual owns it, moves onto the next scene with the help of fellow teammates, and immediately applies what they learned from that mistake in the next scene.

The application of the learning builds trust and belonging with their team:

  • You can take risks because if you make an error, you’ll be supported by the team.
  • The team trusts you because they see you owning and learning from your mistakes.

There will be stumbles, mishaps, and mistakes in creating and sustaining inclusive teams and organizations.

As long as individuals learn from those mistakes, own them, and move forward applying the new skills they’ve honed, team trust won’t be lost.

True improvisers own their errors and learn from them! The power of the Oops is that it can only be a Eureka if you put in the effort as an individual.

With these two principles (and a little time), you can continue to drive a culture of growth and belonging.

For more on Building Inclusive Cultures, view my recent blog on tools for organizational transformation.

Brooke Cartus makes mistakes sometimes. She would love to talk to you about how to create inclusive spaces in your workplace, both in-person and virtually. Set up a time to share with her here.



[1] https://www.turnerconsultinggroup.ca/blog-tana-turner/winning-at-the-intersection-of-equity-diversity-inclusion

This article is 100% written by a human named Karen Hough. She is the Founder & CEO of ImprovEdge, in the top 4% of women-owned businesses in the US, a 3-time Amazon bestselling author, Yale grad, wife and mom of three.