Sunday, June 29th, 2014


We talk about the value of play at work.
Mostly we don’t believe it.
Actually I do. Not theoretically but because I’ve seen it work.

My most vivid example is of a project group in total gridlock with a presentation looming. They had gotten grim and dull and defeated.  It was hard to watch.
I intervened and set up a kind of game.  I asked them to make a headpiece that showed the atmosphere of the group. (They soooo knew they were going down) They moaned and groaned and I stuck to my guns.  Told them the misery would be over in 15 minutes and if they couldn’t switch gears and take a challenge they sure as hell couldn’t make their deadline with a decent product.

Well, so pissed at me, they began.  Their anger and frustration took shape with construction paper and glue.  A timid start got wild fast. There were no “selfies” but we could have taken an outrageous photo.  I timed the activity and they had to stop at 15 minutes. 

Back to work.  Ideas flowed. Structure emerged. Cooperation was easy.
The presentation was great. They saved their sorry asses.

All through a little play that:
-Relaxed the fixation of one way to get something down
-Reduced the performance anxiety by being ridiculous
-Literally created good humor
-Made everyone equally willing to be foolish and therefore able to loosen up
-Took their minds off the work totally so that fresh eyes could emerge  

Play works.


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