I finally submitted my first article to a cool peer-reviewed journal. Excitedly waiting the reviewers response…
Playing at work: professionals’ conceptions of the functions of play on organizational creativity.
Samuel West, Eva Hoff, Ingegerd Carlsson
Department of Psychology, Lund University
The notions of creativity consultants on how play promotes workplace creativity was investigated. Play is often used by creativity trainers to promote creative performance. Seventeen experienced professionals were interviewed. The informants considered play to facilitate group creativity by increasing the openness, intrinsic motivation and collaboration. Play was discouraged by a stressful, fun-phobic organization and when play was non-voluntary. Play was encouraged by permission to play, that leaders demonstrated playfulness, a certain degree of structure and that the activity was matched to the group. The use of competition and seriousness in play was controversial. A tentative model of play for organizational creativity was developed.
Key words: play, playfulness, innovation, organizational creativity, creativity training
Att vara kåt på jobbet
Helsingborgs stadsteaters Foajéscen den 22 nov kl. 20.00. Förr betydde ordet kåt att vara fylld av livskraft och livsmod, livlig, glad och levnadslustig. Samuel pratar om vikten av arbetsglädje och om hur den kan främjas på arbetsplatsen. Glädje och lek hör ihop – hur kan jobbet bli roligare och vi bli mer kreativa på jobbet genom att leka mer? Hur lekfullheten främjar kreativitet och innovation oavsett yrke. Han är en flitigt anlitad föreläsare kring både arbetsglädje och om hur kreativiteten kan främjas på arbetsplatsen. Läs hela Press Releasen
John Henry Harris talks about his experiences of play and its benefits at the Lego company. He says that play not only aids creativity, it relieves stress, and makes people more productive at work. He is a little heavy on the pro-danish propaganda, but makes some good point. And his Lego-inspired slides are cool!
Here are some more yet-to-be-published points from my first study of play in the workplace, and more specifically how play is used to promote creativity in the workplace. Many organizational leaders would like to have a more playful work environment, but cannot think of any other way of doing so than to introduce “casual Friday” or other similarly lame ideas. Oh, and a ping pong table in the company cafeteria isn’t going to do much good either. It is not that these ideas are inherently bad, it is mostly that these ideas of play are the leaders ideas of play. And since one of the defining criteria of play is that it is completely voluntary, then forcing employees to do the boss’s idea of play is not ever going to result in anything other than resistance. So, what is a organizational leader to do if he or she wants to make an effort to boost their organization’s playfulness?
Well, it is actually quite simple. Be playful yourself, frequently demonstrate your playfulness, and give employees explicit and implicit permission to play. This is probably the single most effective way to increase playfulness amongst your employees. It is not about telling people to play in a certain way, but rather about encouraging people to bring out their own playfulness in all its various forms.
In my interviews of organizational consultants who use play in their work, all of them stressed the importance of leaders giving ‘the permission to play,’ as well as leaders setting the example. The permission can be both instructions and direct encouragement of play at work. Last week I happened to spot a colorful sign for employees posted in the kitchen at a cafe at the Copenhagen Airport. Amongst the other points like “give good customer service”, “clean hands” was “have a playful attitude, it makes work more fun.” Another way to give the permission to play, is let the physical context signal that this is a creative and playful workplace. It could be some unusual furniture, funny looking lamps, weird decorations, purposely uncomfortable conference room, childish candy… etc etc. Anything that signals, we take our work seriously, but not ourselves too seriously.
What about the less playful, chronically serious employees who never smile and think work is a severely sober place? There is no way to lure out the playfulness of a non-playful individual, it will never work. Ever. They just don’t have it in them. However a work environment that promotes play by implicit and explicit permission along with organizational leaders setting the example by demonstrating their own playfulness will allow the more playful individual’s playfulness to bloom!
I just read an interesting article on the possible evolutionary function of creativity. In a series of experiments researchers at Arizona State University tested if people were more creative if they were primed for sex. »For men, any cue designed to activate a short-term (academia for a one night stand) or a long-term mating goal (academia for more sex) increased creative displays.« So when men first got to view sexy women and thought they might get sex, they boosted up their displays of creativity, and it didn’t matter how little or how much sex was being offered. Women however only increased their creativity when they thought they had a chance of getting a trustworthy long-term partner that their friends liked.
Science is fun!
TL;DR: Creativity is all about getting sex.
Peacocks, Picasso, and Parental Investment: The Effects of Romanitic Motives on Creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2006.
Ok, this isn’t work-related – but it is definitely play-related. The concept of play is not so easily defined, and other concepts are very similar. One concept is flow, which originally was actually called play by researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The difference between a game and play is also arbitrary. Perhaps a game has more set rules than just play, but both are fun and engaging. I have recently read a few books on games and how the concept of games can be applied outside of the world of computer games (which is where the authors often come from.) Yesterday evening I gave it an intentional try at dinner. My children (8yrs + 10yrs) don’t like salad greens. If I dish them a portion of salad they complain that it is too much and if they dish it themselves they take micro-portions, making me complain.
I made a little game out of it; framed the dishing of salad as a game of strategy requiring risk calculation and excitement. The rules: they were to dish as much salad onto their plate as they wished, but if I didn’t think it was enough I would add an additional handful of greens to their plate which would end up being a ridiculously much they would have to eat. The kids went from ohh do we have to eat lettuce to instant excitement. They both play a lot of computer games and immediately grasped the challenge. They happily took a generous portion of greens and we had an enjoyable dinner.
En artikel hos Ingenjörsamfundet. Kul att de uppmärksammar lekens betydelse för kreativitet och innovation!
“…Innovation är hett. Snart sagt alla hyfsat stora företag säger att de är innovativa, men frågan är om de verkligen är det. För att arbeta innovativt behöver medarbetare tid och rum för kreativitet – för att få vara lekfulla….”
Jag är nu i södra Danmark i hålan Billund som är mer känd som stan där leksaksföretaget Lego har sitt huvudkontor. Första intrycket är att Lego äger hela stan; Disneyland fast Lego. Jaja.. jag är här för konferensen European Innovation Conference, och ska också presentera mina forskningsprojekt om lek och kreativitet. Om jag lär mig någonting nytt denna vecka så kommer jag definitivt att lägga ut det på bloggen.
I am now in southern Denmark, in Billund the home of Lego. I’m attending the European Innovation Conference, and will present my research project as well as some preliminary results from my current study on play and creativity. If there is anything interesting I learn here at the conference I will definitely share it.