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Adult Play and Creativity

Here are two posts about ‘play’ for adults, particularly in business.

On one hand, it’s fairly well-known that play is an important ingredient for adults, both in creative thinking and in learning. On the other, I know there’s real hesitation from the Regular Person who doesn’t understand what we often mean by that statement. A random search on Google has some questionable suggestions by creative experts, such as “Learn to cut loose, even at work!” or “When you’re writing your next report, think like a child!”

I’m not sure this is a good example of playing at work, but a few weeks ago, at a workshop for a financial services company in Melbourne, an executive and I were analysing how to improve her 78-page slide presentation for an upcoming meeting of the Board of Directors. Her immediate supervisor demanded she put all of his slides in the presentation, but then said “But feel free to make it your own.” (Talk about Creative Paradoxes, see below.)

After getting our heads around the complex topic, we began to joke about how we might turn the presentation into something playful. “What would the Board of Directors never expect?” And, “What would make her presentation a surprise?” Or, “What if the Board were in control of the presentation, instead of her?”

This last point became our springboard. After some brainstorming, we decided to turn her presentation into a type of television game show. We created a new title slide which asked the Board to choose the order of the six topics in her presentation. Yes, it required us to make a load of hyperlinks throughout the document, but in the end, it was now their presentation and not “hers.”

Last week, I heard the meeting went very well, but more specifically, the Board appreciated the idea they could prioritise the topics based on their discussions earlier in the day. In fact, it generated so much interest, the Board only selected two of the six topics, and invited her back next month to discuss the other four. Clearly, she was thrilled to be re-invited, thus earning her more exposure with key influencers in the organisation.

Is that a fair example of incorporating “play” into a work situation? I’d love to hear other real examples …

In the meantime, here’s two posts for you to consider.

Adult creativity: Why we should make time for play

Also, a TED presentation by Dr. Stuart Brown, an expert on play. I particularly liked his thought: “The opposite of play is not work, it’s depression.”

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