Work as play

Woman on swingIn one of my other lives, I study psychotherapy, and a recent class examined the concept of ‘play’ – its importance in child development leading to a healthy adult psyche.

After establishing what was involved in play – exploration, experimentation, risk-taking, imagination, role-playing, trial-and-error, all those things that help to build fully rounded human beings – our tutor posed a question: ‘When, in your life, do you play?’

I surprised myself by immediately answering: ‘When I’m at work.’

This led to a discussion about work as play, and how this can be a helpful way to approach the elements involved in a working day, such as planning, discussion, concept development and so on.

So often we get caught up in deadlines, processes, systems. All these are necessary, but they only facilitate, they don’t create. Without play, your business is in danger of becoming its processes.

With play, you won’t just have fun – you’ll probably end up with a creative energy suffusing your business.

So encourage your staff to play with ideas, have a go, draw pictures to express new structural concepts, throw words around to develop a new business angle, and if a meeting takes an unexpected turn that takes you off the agenda, go with it and see where it leads – you never know where you’ll end up.

The play environment succeeds because the child is free to explore within safe limits – allow this for your staff and you’re onto a winner.

There isn’t a great deal of interesting web content on this subject, but plenty treating work and play as oil and water – mutually exclusive.

I did find this interesting article about South American Indians – Leisure in Action: Work as Play – for those wanting to stretch their psyches around the ‘work as play’ concept.