I was recently invited to an all day workshop, and asked to fill the role of observer. As someone who’s mind likes to engage and participate in the opportunities to be creative in thought, it’s not a role that comes naturally to me.
One of the themes that I observed was this particular team’s difficulty to solve problems that had no obvious or easy solutions. Creative thought was required to work around and through the issues on the table. Old problems and a new environment meant that traditional solutions weren’t going to cut it. A fresh approach was required, and that’s where they kept getting stuck.
Last year we launched the Creative Play Society. We’d seen the above scenario over and over again, and decided to present our solution to the challenge. It’s a simple solution. Possibly too simple, because we’ve discovered it’s a rather difficult sell.
That’s it. Play. We see creativity in the same way we see physical fitness. If you want to increase your physical fitness, in order to achieve a particular goal, you need to train. You can’t expect to start and finish the Comrades Marathon if you haven’t put in the necessary training in the preceding months.
It’s no different with creativity. Using the same logic, you can’t expect to arrive at a meeting to creatively solve problems and obstacles you face, if you haven’t put in the necessary training in the preceding months. In the world of creativity, PLAY is how you develop your creative muscle.
We’re not suggesting that everyone needs to leave the office and head off to the closest children’s park and climb into the sandpit and onto the jungle gyms (we’re also not saying you shouldn’t). Play is simply allowing your mind to wander and wonder, for no reason at all. It’s allocating regular time for your mind to explore freely in order to achieve absolutely nothing. Do that for a few days, and you’ll see no noticeable result. Do it for a few weeks, and probably still nothing. However, get into a habit of play over a few months and you’ll begin to notice a different you who attends those meetings where creativity is required.
Try selling that paragraph in a business setting, where inputs must show measurable outputs with guaranteed profit attached. Suggest to a Division Head that she should encourage her people to regularly stop what they’re doing so that they can play, and in so doing, allow their minds to wander and wonder, for no particular reason at all, in the hope that in a few months time the business will see far more creative thinking. Exactly. Tough sell indeed.
This post was triggered by the video below, from the YouTube channel Verbal to Visual. It’s a great example of play for adults. It’s the kind of activity we advocate at Creative Play Society. If you take the 16 minutes required to watch it, you’ll discover a great example of adults engaged in play. You’ll also discover a really fun activity to play with your kids, your partner, or anyone else who’ll trust you next time you ask if someone wants to have a lot of fun and play.
Barrie is a business conference speaker, specialising in Change, Creativity, and Disruption.