Bring play to what you do

Haven’t you noticed that at meetings/seminars/workshops it is harder and harder to get people to be present and concentrate on the subject? There is so much interfering – someone’s phone beeps, hundreds of ‘tasks’ wondering around at our heads etc. So, how can we have an effective and short meetings with everyone actually being present?

The first thing that helps is agreeing that no cell phones or laptops at the meeting. We have that agreement in our team and it helps… a bit. What helps more in my opinion, is bringing play into everything you do. “Bring play to what you do” are words by Will Smith at Nordic Business Forum 2017 and I couldn’t agree more. Jo Confino has said in one article: “Playfulness is at the root of creativity. So why on earth have we created a corporate system where everyone feels the need to be so serious?”

By playing I don’t mean going completely silly, although why not do that sometimes as well. I mean doing the things you are doing anyway in a more playful fashion. For example, if you need to prioritize ideas from brainstorming, give each participant 7 candies and ask them to share those candies the way they wish between best ideas. A very common retrospective practice and works every time. People take time to think what ideas are worth their candies. Or use smiley face stickers to praise someone. Or colorful post-its to get into the mood.

Last spring, when I was preparing for a brainstorming workshop, I read about getting into creative mood from a book “Game storming” by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, James Macanufo. The name of the method is ‘Image-ination‘ and very shortly it meant that I cut out tens of pictures from random magazines. At the workshop we were brainstorming ideas to a specific question, which was written in the middle of a large paper. Around it were the photographs, picture part facing down. People turned over the pictures one by one and wrote down the ideas that they got after that. By the way, neither the question nor the ideas had nothing to do with the pictures. It is just a tactics to clear your head and think outside the box. It gets your attention in a different, more playful way and unleashes the creativity.

Three top reasons for me to use playful elements at work meetings are:

  1. It connects people in a faster way (sometimes they even SMILE :-))
  2. It brings everyone to presence (beeping phones and future to-do lists are forgotten)
  3. It relaxes the brain and gives more space for creativity.

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