In today’s busy world it can be hard to carve time out of a daily routine, especially for activities whose benefits don’t seem immediately obvious. However, an exception should be made for playing. Commonly seen as the domain of children, playing has benefits for everyone, including adult professionals. Playing, whether with words, ideas, art, or anything else, can fuel creativity and spark insights that lead to innovation.
I was reminded of this last Friday during the summer picnic for the company. Come to find out, it has been a few years since the staff and their families got together to relax and have some fun – and some friendly competition such as the obstacle course. A real shame. At the end of the day, staff and their spouses came up and put in their vote to make this a regular event.
In the context of playing and creativity, don't wait for the annual company picnic. Take a step back and play — even at work. Why?
Playing Sparks New Ideas.
Playing allows us to integrate and synthesize ideas that on the surface do not appear to be related. This allows for the birth of new ideas, which is an important aspect of the innovation. Consider why magnetic poetry is so popular: unexpected words are grouped together to form an idea that the poet may not have otherwise had.
Playing Has No Restraints
Day-to-day restraints are lifted in play. With play, it’s okay to make mistakes and experiment with new solutions to problems. Without fear of being wrong or judged, playing allows us to try new ideas and to see what works and what doesn't before taking ideas out into the “real world.”
Playing Fuels Creativity
Playing gives us the freedom to incorporate the real and the absurd. By stretching your mind to incorporate new ideas into play, you are exercising your creativity. This has a very practical application. A strong imagination allows us to conceptualize solutions to problems, and to be in the habit of creating new ideas.
Although it may be hard to carve out time – even a few minutes a day – to play, it can lead to that breakthrough you've been looking for.