Putting Play to Work
Play with meaningful purpose
One of the many things I love about the LEGO® SERIOUSPLAY® method is that name. Serious play seems like an oxymoron right? Play is supposed to be fun and easy and time away from work. “Child’s Play” has long been a phrase that refers to the easiness of a task. But if you watch children at play you can see that it is serious. Everything they do in play is steeped in meaning. We can learn from this.
Why we should use play at work
Play can take many forms but at the most basic level it is an activity that creates enjoyment and engagement. Pamela Meyer says in her book From Workplace to Playspace:
Play in the organizational system allows for dynamic engagement
This attribute of play, that it is engaging, makes play powerful as a tool to us. Play can be used to engage us in our tasks, to help us confront the daunting problems that we may often ignore or sweep aside. If we approach these with a playful mindset we are able to open up avenues of discovery and knowledge that can help us to build strategies and solutions. We already use this in our work life. How many times have you heard the phrase “let’s play it out”? This is a useful phrase because we can literally play it out using play methods like Lego SeriousPlay, Game Storming and Applied Improv.
On top of play being a useful tool in the workplace for discovery, idea creation, knowledge building and strategising, play can have many beneficial effects. Bright HR have researched this with the wellbeing expert Cary Cooper and have found that fun and play are important to the workforce and can have benefits to the organisation. These benefits include:
- Increased productivity
- Lower stress levels
- Reduced workforce absences
This research is based on play being an activity of fun with no work place value other than the wellbeing of the workforce. As the research was carried out in partnership with a wellbeing expert perhaps this is to be expected.
What if we could make the activity of play productive?
If we can make the activity of play productive in terms of the work that needs to be carried out then we can achieve the benefits to the wellbeing of the workforce, which benefits the organisation but also further benefits to the organisation such as greater collaboration, more abundant ideas, greater knowledge sharing, less habitual thinking and so much more.
By way of example. Improv is a tool that can be used in the workplace that can be used to uncover and share knowledge, play out scenarios and promote collaboration through active listening (How Improv techniques can help your business).
Lego SeriousPlay has a method that can be used for any number of issues in the workplace. For instance, team building, solving problems and even defining the values of the organisation. Perhaps designing the business or the value proposition by coupling Lego SeriousPlay with Strategyzer’s value proposition canvas.
Game Storming provides activities that likewise can share knowledge and help with problem solving, design and so much more.
Looking back to how seriously children take play, there is good reason for that. Through play most children are able to learn to stand, walk and use their voices as well as the basics of language by the age of three. Play allows us to push boundaries and see what we can do and our methods at MundoNovus are able to bring these benefits into your organisation.
So not only is it Serious it is Purposeful Play.