When we play, we improvise, imagine, and inspire—all of which is good for business. Here’s how to add playfulness to business strategy.
The article suggests that somewhere between improvisation and imagination lies inspiration and play is essential to all three. It asserts that play is not the opposite or work, that's leisure. Play is part of productive work, especially where innovation is concerned. To encourage an atmosphere of play, the authors suggest we:
- Eliminate the risk of rejection or embarrassment
- Forget about goals; only then can your mind wander
- Create boundaries, areas where play is welcome and encouraged
- Encourage spontaneity and impulsiveness
- Be patient. Sometimes play yields great new ideas and sometimes it doesn't, at least not right away.
Want to generate inventive new ideas that can win in the market? Build management teams comprising people with the widest possible range of backgrounds and perspectives.
A new study from Boston Consulting Group quantifies the benefit of diversity on innovation and financial performance.
The report points to the fact that people with different backgrounds and experiences often see the problem in new ways. Specific findings included:
- Companies with above average diversity scores averaged 45% income from products and services launched in the past three years. Those with below-average scores averaged just 26% innovation income.
- Margins for the above-average group were 9 percentage points higher than the low diversity group.
- The biggest payoff came from diversity in national origin, industry backgrounds, gender and career path. Age and educational focus showed impact too, but to a lesser extent.
There's lot's more to read here, so if innovation is important to you (and it should be), take the time to read the whole thing.
"It seems two very different behaviors optimize creative thinking for innovation processes...If we never rest, can’t focus, or don't work with each other, we miss out on finding new ideas and fail to execute them."
This new paper from Haworth gets at the brain science behind creativity and innovation. Though the terms are often used in close proximity or even interchangeably, they are completely different. Importantly, the kind of physical environment that supports one, is all wrong for the other.
- There's a sweet spot that's ‘just right’ for creativity to flourish. It's where distractions, stress, and emotions are not high enough to sabotage our ability to focus, but not so low that we’re bored.
- Innovation occurs when people create together. It requires both group focus and periods of socializing.
Serendipitous interactions—particularly among people with diverse backgrounds—fuel innovation, but ‘protected areas’ where teams can feel safe amongst themselves are important too.
A supportive work culture is equally, if not more important than the physical environment. People need to be psychologically empowered to move between spaces as they choose. They need to feel valued, appreciated, and supported by their colleagues and by leadership. They need to feel psychologically safe to stare out the window, take a walk, share what they know, offer a different point of view, or fail.
The best organisational cultures are tolerant of the loner, the thinker. - John Wade "If I was you," said a colleague recently "now would be a very good time to involve customers, to get more people involved". No, I thought, right now that would be the worst thing we could do. Collaboration can kill creativity.…
People do their best thinking in private, NOT in groups. Over 800 studies show this to be true. So why do we keep building open workplaces under the guise of increased Innovation?
When is collaboration useful?
- When dealing with complex problems that span a range of disciplines
- For getting buy-in
- When dealing with fundamental and/or strategic problems
When isn't it?
- You really need to think
- You need radical thinking
- When you need a quick solution
Filter bubbles are a problem for democracy. We believe they’re a problem for creativity, too.
From IDEO: Escape Your Filter Bubble and Enhance Your Creativity
- Talk to strangers - Bill Murray's recommends conversations with cab drivers
- Unfollow people like you - it will open your eyes to other perspectives
- Join a different demographic - Bingo anyone?
- Volunteer - It brings you eye to eye with people you don't usually hang with (and it will make you feel good)
From Fast Company: Expunge these three phrases from the conversation:
- Best Practices - By the time they're 'best' they're stale
- Return on Investment - Yahoo turned down an offer to buy Google for $1M because it didn't pencil out
- "When I worked for ..." - It's so yesterday