Improv MBAs

The Chronicle of Higher Education sent me on one of my more fun assignments recently — hang out at the Sloan MIT School of Management’s Improvisational Leadership class. The premise of the class is simple enough, teaching students to interpret and react quickly to the situation in front of them. A lot of that includes reading the subtext of conversations and to properly judge the power dynamic between relationships. The lessons of the class have a lot in common with what I have to do as a photojournalist on a daily basis. Improvising is what I have to do in 99% of my work, because, I am after all, taking pictures of strangers all the time.

The Chronicle’s story goes into much more depth, and you can read at least part of the story on their website (behind a paywall).

But otherwise, here’s an extended take of my time with the class. Much thanks to all the students involved and to instructor Daena Giardella for letting me hang out!

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Claire Lo, facing, and her partner Weisen Li participate in an impromptu warmup exercise during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011. (Kelvin Ma)

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Claire Lo, facing, and her partner Weisen Li participate in an impromptu warmup exercise during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011.

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Jaclyn Loo leads her group in a breakout dance session during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011. (Kelvin Ma)

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Jaclyn Loo leads her group in a breakout dance session during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011.

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Jeff Feng does the sprinkler dance move as Simone Gammeri tries to keep his composure during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011. (Kelvin Ma)

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Jeff Feng does the sprinkler dance move as Simone Gammeri tries to keep his composure during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011.

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Instructor Daena Giardella holds up the chimes she uses to start and stop exercises during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011. (Kelvin Ma)

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Instructor Daena Giardella holds up the Tibetan chimes she uses to start and stop exercises during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011.

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Instructor Daena Giardella offers guidance to Shayna Harris and Jorge Guzman on their role play exercise about power during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011. Harris' character was originally supposed to be in a taller position of power over Guzman, though that position reversed as a result of their interactions. (Kelvin Ma)

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Instructor Daena Giardella offers guidance to Shayna Harris and Jorge Guzman on their role play exercise about power during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011. Harris' character was originally supposed to be in a taller position of power over Guzman, though that position reversed as a result of their interactions.

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Miro Kazakoff acts like a chicken as he chases Michael Connolly during an exercise to simulate the "pecking order" during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011. (Kelvin Ma)

3/16/11 -- CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Miro Kazakoff acts like a chicken as he chases Michael Connolly during an exercise to simulate the "pecking order" during MIT's Sloan School of Management's "Improvisational Leadership" course on Mar. 16, 2011.

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