Neil Mullarkey

The team had a great session this week with a good colleague of ours, Neil Mullarkey – co-founder of the Comedy Store Players (with none other than a certain Mike Myers). 

Neil shared insights and involved us in playing with ideas from the world of improvisational theatre to help develop creative thinking.

So, here’s some of the stuff we picked up from our 60 minutes with Neil:


  • Build on the ‘offer’ – listen, listen good! What has your colleague (or customer) ‘offered’ you in what they’ve said in conversation? This can be taken as the starting point, the inspiration for the sketch or idea to develop. Play with it, develop it and see where it takes you.

  • “Yes, and…” – it’s too tempting in conversation or brainstorming to find fault or difficulty in what you’re being told, and instinct may be to challenge or disagree… ‘BUT!!’ .Avoid it. Don’t use the ‘B’ word. It presents obstacles and stilts creative flow. Instead try ‘yes, and...’. See where it takes you; it continues the conversation in a more positive way and builds on ideas, working its way around obstacles.

  • Rhythm and spontaneity – avoid ‘BUT’ and obstacles, yes; but conversations, business, concept development all rely on an underlying ‘rhythm’ that allows moments of spontaneity (the more left field, creative bits). Keep the underlying drum beat going, then allow the soloist to drop in their fancy riffs over the top. Some members of the team may be more comfortable performing the rhythm role…though doesn’t need to be this way. Swap about if it suits.

  • Use positive language, and body language – it keeps the energy up!

  • Do the unexpected - try and drop something a bit different into brainstorms – turn left instead of right…in fact grow wings and go up instead of simply turning left. Just be conscious of not blindly following the most obvious routes.


“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” Edward de Bono.