The importance of play for building relationships and creativity

Play - the Chemistry of Yes

Isabel Behncke Izquierdo appeared on the BBC Radio 4 show the Museum of Curiosity in 2014. Isabel Behncke is an eminent primatologist and an adventurer scientist from Chile. During the discussion she had much to say on the importance of play for building relationships and creativity.

The conversation between the guests on the show, including comedian Neil Innes and explorer Dr Bradley Garrett, alongside show creator John Lloyd and co-presenter Phill Jupitus, was circling the idea of play in nature.

Dr Garrett opined that it is a shame that as we grow older, we lose the importance of play. At that point, Isabel Behncke said:

Transcription of clip

“Play wants, cements and builds relationships. It also builds your creativity. Because it’s like you are enhancing your internal repertoire of things and then you are under positive emotion. Positive emotion literally opens your mind.

Play is kind of the chemistry of yes. We like to contrast it to the physics of no. The physics of no is the state that you find very often, especially when confronting health and safety committees and so on. It is just the basic starting point, and play is the chemistry of yes. And then things are possible, it’s the only space where uncertainty is really fun. I don’t know the end of the joke, I don’t know the end of the game. Let’s find out. Otherwise, uncertainty is awful, it’s scary.”

In the work we have done, we have found this is true.

How this relates to our work

Isabel Behncke’s words are interesting as it points to the power of play to allow solutions to emerge in a less scary environment. Play and game-spaces allow us to explore in a safer environment, which in turn allows more ideas and, importantly, more original ideas to come out into the open. This makes play the optimal environment for creativity.

Isabel Behncke also mentions that “play wants, cements and builds relationships”. This again helps to develop a more creative workspace and build that social capital that leads to a team that trusts in each other.

To find out more about Isabel Behncke, take a look at the Wikipedia article on her here. She is doing some interesting research and conservation work, she is well worth paying attention to.

Get in touch with us and we can co-create new strategies that can help your organisation and teams be ready for whatever comes around the corner. Let’s play!

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