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Free to play, free to explore

How play can boost creativity and innovation.

Play means different things to different people. And often something that we've done a lot at a certain stage of our lives, seems like something incompatible with our professional lives. Bringing elements of fun, and more than that, a playful mindset to work may not be comfortable in certain organizations or cultures. But one thing is for sure: it is much easier to take crazy ideas and turn them into something practical and doable than it is to take ideas that everyone else has made and turn them into something more creative.

When I look at my history, I can see how playing has evolved and clearly managed to help me build my identity, develop skills, elaborate and perceive conflict situations - real or imaginary - in addition to helping me build my own vision of the world. and things around me.

From my childhood memories of role play with my sister, to the construction of artifacts and stories with paper, cardboard boxes and scrap metal, through my professional development and training as a designer and strategist, modeling sprints and co-creation workshops, to my latest free play and story building experience using legos with my 5 year old son - my new creative duo! -, I can perceive in a very real and vivid way the power that the experimental and fluid state that play can bring to us.

Sam Wass, a child psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of East London, studied children's brains as they played.

In this article, he explains that children's brains are "hiperconnected" - there are more connections between different neurons in a child's brain than in an adult's, and as a result their brains are "messier". Play helps them organize this information.

In addition to the neurological benefits of play, Wass argues that it helps children learn about the world around them through experiments. For many teenagers, games play a key role in helping to define them as people and discover a sense of identity. We have a lot to (re)learn about creativity, innovation and problem solving by looking at the child's relationship with play - Do you know the marshmallow challenge? ;)

When I watch my son or other children playing, I realize that a lot is happening there, besides building blocks; in the same way, I observe in adults that a lot is also happening in a Lego Serious Play workshop, for example. They are people experimenting, building scenarios, elaborating critical situations and accessing, individually and collectively, a knowledge and wisdom that would hardly be accessed from more traditional processes or dynamics.

Playing helps us to elaborate and construct meaning and meaning.

Playing helps us to solve problems from new approaches and points of view. It helps us organize ideas, thoughts; The playful unites people, opening space for dialogues and exchanges of opinion in a more positive and comfortable way; It activates our senses, feeling and abilities, putting us in our flow. Playing makes it possible to put ourselves in the other's shoes, to simulate situations. What's more, playing helps us make connections between different parts of the brain that weren't necessarily connected before.

Can we play seriously?

You don't have to change everything in your work process to add a little more fun or have a playful mindset. Whether it's a creative warm-up, role-play, or moving your tables and chairs into a more collaborative arrangement, there are small ways to practice a play mindset as a step towards generating more creative ideas.

Often, using resources, methods and tools of collaboration and creation that are lighter, playful, that put the participants in a more fluid state, can trigger not only processes, but also different results - this is what we seek to build here at Sincera Space in the development of our tools and methods. To be used as a structure for people to flow.

I end this reflection with a provocation:

How can you bring playfulness and a experimental mindset to your work today?


Tips to bring a more playful and playful mindset to your work:

1. Practice role play, games and scenario simulation

We're all so good at playing roles as kids. We use our imagination to assume all kinds of personas. As adults, we are often stuck with playing one role at work: our own. On your next project, see how your contributions can be different if you actively take on different roles.

2. Do something with your hands

Whether physical or digital, the act of doing allows you to think about doing. Called constructive play, this is a common behavior in children. Children learn to build with blocks by repeatedly stacking and knocking them down. Manual Thinking connects thinking with feeling.

3. Model the space to stimulate creation

You need a safe and stimulating environment for experimentation. Space is an underutilized resource for businesses because more often than not it is optimized for efficiency rather than designing how you expect people to act in it. Open, flexible and adaptable space encourages collaboration and interaction.

4. Make time for creative warm-ups

If you hope to shift to a playful mindset, try starting your meeting with an exercise that makes people draw or dream. Something that signals that they are entering a more playful moment. Warm-up activities help prepare and move people from one state to another.

5. Use different resources, triggers, tools and means of expression

Each person reacts differently depending on the stimulus or tool used to create. Each person creates and thinks differently, using different skills, in addition to Logical-Mathematical or Verbal-Linguistic. Make different resources available, of different natures so that people can use them and express themselves from their strongest abilities.


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