This photo was taken yesterday afternoon at an event where people of all ages engaged in creativity, play, and community building: a soup challenge fundraiser. This Jayhawk puppet belonged to a 5-year-old who thought that the Jayhawk needed a nap before the event kicked off. We had fun from beginning to end!
Garr Reynold’s has an interesting post on play. Here’s an excerpt:
As very young children, we were naturally authentic communicators and conversationalists. But then somewhere down the line we began to be guided away from that natural, human talent as a shift occurred in our education that emphasized “the correct answer” and demanded careful, formal speech—speech that did not encourage engagement and dissuaded our true personalities from coming out, lest we run the risk of ridicule. But you are an adult now and you can change your destiny. You can find again that naturalness, creativity, and energy you had as a child and combine it with your knowledge, skills, and passion to make real human-to-human connections that lead to remarkable change.
I’m considering how authentic action leads to genuine connections and on to “remarkable change.” As an organization development practitioner, I work with many organizations and individuals in transition – another word for change. How do I bring meaningful play into my work with clients? How do I combine the freedom and energy of play with my skills? How do I build, and lead others to build, relationships that are life-giving?
May we all discover relationship and creativity, finding the “napping Jayhawk” right next to us, leading to “remarkable change.”
Have you played today?
Time to play
Check out Deborah King’s post today on play. She offers a detailed review of the book, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. She reflects:
We all realize the world is a much more complex place than it used to be. Solving the problems our businesses are facing requires viewing the problem through different filters, and being open and innovative to try things we haven’t tried before. Research indicates that play can be the key to improving our abilities to work collaboratively in a process of fact-finding, brainstorming, and innovating solutions.
Exploring the idea of “play” in the workplace can help us create the future.
I was not surprised when I heard a nearby 12-year-old complain, “I’m bored.” But I was taken aback when a recent college graduate told me, “I’m bored with my work.” She was working in her field of choice, about a year into an entry-level job. She said that she didn’t mind doing the routine work, but she wanted to be challenged, to have opportunities to try new things, meet new people, and grow. I connected her comments with the frustrations that multiple Millennials have expressed about their workplaces. And, the frustration extends beyond the Millennials as seen in a 2010 survey that shows only 45% of the workforce is satisfied with their job.
While I understand that every workplace has certain tasks that must be routinely completed, I am thinking about what it means to create a playful workplace. This would be a workplace that moves beyond employee engagement to serious play. What do kids do when they’re the opposite of bored? They’re playing, which results in having fun! In my neighborhood, they go outdoors and ride bikes on the trail, build forts in the woods, get together to eat pizza and play video games, or just hang out eating cookies and drinking soda pop on the back porch. A more defined view of play sees these activities as exploring, creating, relating, generating, and reflecting. When these activities are happening, I never hear, “I’m bored.”
The challenge for our organizations is to embrace those who say, “I’m bored.” It is time to stop saying, “I don’t have time to deal with this – just get on with it.” It is time to expand our thinking – to engage in serious play. I don’t know that there is a road map for serious play in organizations, but I do know that the beginning is taking time to relate to everyone and set an intention to listen and hear new ideas, create space to imagine new things, and find ways to adventure into new territory. I believe it’s time to stop changing incrementally and be willing to experiment with new ideas and fail and try again.
In the end it’s not about creating the next best piece of technology or the nifty new software app or the perfect organization chart. In the end it’s being willing to get down on the rug and build a new Lego truck that can fly to the moon today, then take it apart and use the Lego blocks to build a whale that walks on land tomorrow. In the end, it’s about the journey and the people with whom we choose to ride the trail. Just maybe, we’ll all be less bored as we discover and create the way to the future together.