Why so serious? What playful thinking can do for you

This week’s spotlight: all things play.

Sillykid

This silly face courtesy of Flickr user Philip Dean via Creative Commons

If your last brainswarm left you with a yellow notepad full of wild ideas, don’t chuck them in the recycling can quite yet. You might be closer to a great new program idea or creative fundraising solution than you think.

According to the minds behind the leading design innovation firm IDEO, the ridiculous ideas we get from uninhibited playful thinking come hand in hand with brilliant ones.

Brendan Boyle is a partner and toy lab leader at IDEO and promotes creative entrepreneurialism around the world. Joe Wilcox, a former circus performer and kinetic sculptor, is one of IDEO’s top toy inventors.

In a recent 99U article, they talked about the importance of play for generating fresh ideas:

Brendan: This is a quote from Stewart Brown, who is founder of the National Institute for Play, “Most people think that the opposite of play is work (especially in the corporate world) but the opposite is boredom or even depression.” To me, play is what you’re passionate about doing. You want to do it because it’s enjoyable and you want to keep doing it because it brings you joy. But play is a ton of effort.

Big innovation is right on the edge of ridiculous ideas. You need an environment that isn’t quite so judgmental about a ridiculous idea. Sometimes those are the ones that are so close to being the brilliant ones. If a space that allows for play can help encourage those types of ideas than you’ll come up with some possibly ridiculous but potentially groundbreaking ideas.

Joe: Those skeptics are in every walk of life. You can certainly combat it [by trying out] the experimenter role. Show people it’s possible, don’t just tell them. It’s always been the seemingly improbable, boundary-pushing ideas that have created this world around us and none of that would have been possible if they’d listened to all the people who said it never would have worked. We’d still be living in caves if we relied on the skeptics.

So hang on tight, buckle your safety belt, and don’t be afraid to get a little silly with your ideas. You never know what you’ll come up with.

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What’s your favorite ridiculous idea that ended up being great?

 

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Comments (2)


  1. […] take my word on it.  Take a little bit of your day to read this article in the Idealist Blog; Why So Serious? What Playful Thinking Can Do For You.  Then decide how you’re going to finish the day; grumpy because you gotta do it again […]


  2. Jesse writes:
    September 20, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! The physical environment as well as the culture of a space tremendously dictates mental output. When there is a space that promotes bouncing off the walls while simultaneously offering a place to channel the ensuing creativity…. Well there is just something to that. With each new facility we are working to find more robust ways of bringing this concept to light. Check it out:

    http://www.good.is/posts/this-rock-climbing-gym-stimulates-innovation-and-creativity


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