Using improv comedy to tackle corporate conventionalities seems, well, unconventional. But Gary Kramer, founder and artistic director of San Diego and New York City-based National Comedy Theatre, knows the power of humor in achieving goals, whether in his troupe or in the corporate world. He started an offshoot business, Workplace Interactive Teambuilding Seminars, or WITS for short, in 1996 to help companies lighten up while boosting productivity.
When arriving at the three-hour workshops, executives are typically skeptical. "Within 30 seconds, they're laughing and applauding for each other," says Kramer, 42, who uses games and exercises to teach new ways of communicating. He pro-jects 2006 sales of $500,000 for the workshops, whose clients include Bayer, Home Depot and Nextel. For Kramer, it's all about helping employees build camaraderie. "If I can root for you for three hours," he says, "I'll think about you differently tomorrow."