Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Play as the Basis for Innovation

Originally posted on December 27, 2013

As work shifts from mechanical repetition to innovation, what it takes to promote innovation becomes clear: Play. Some essential elements in playfulness involve exploration, experimentation, and doing so with optimal freedom from fear of failure. This state of mind in turn opens to inspiration. (Inspiration tends to happen far less often when there is any anxiety or fear in the system.). Play used to be viewed as a diversion from work, but that was when work was more fear-based and involved brute force or actions that robots or machines are doing today. Now that work requires creativity, play takes on a whole new function!

In this context, “games” are exercises to promote readiness, interest, involvement, and skill-building that in turn become applied to realistic challenges. (I was going to say “tasks,” but once something becomes a task, it is more liable to be analyzed in terms of its process and translated into what a machine can do. Challenges operate before the task is routinized! We’re still trying to figure out what to do. When we do get that clear, then we can analyze what we’ve done. Ha ha!)

Spontaneity exercises, theatre games, devising new games aimed at promoting specific skills, these activities are becoming part of the more general field of creative activity. Games can be used to teach something, often an intangible skill. Games can be used to facilitate the learning of facts. They can also be used to diagnose problems, to figure out what is and is not working in a system. These also open up the differentiation of which parts can be recombined in creative ways, and which parts can be modified in certain ways.

The benefit of this spontaneity-development activity is that it enlivens the spirit. It is fun, it energizes, it links people together as teammates.

Play is a useful context for discovery. It’s a more fun way to secure cooperation. Having a greater ability to respond, a greater range of skills, in turn generates a greater willingness to take response-ability.

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