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Let’s get serious about innovation and PLAY

May 22, 2013

By Lisa Parker

We spend a lot of time brainstorming in our innovation simulation, Design Thinker. It was created by ExperiencePoint and IDEO, and features IDEO founder Tim Brown’s views on innovation that can be boiled down to two words. Serious Play.

As you can see in Brown’s popular TED talk, he extols the virtue of releasing the intellectual shackles we place on ourselves in order to get in touch with our inner child. This is important because the child is less critical of ourselves and our ideas than the older, more mature versions of ourselves. Remember the fun you had as a kid when you felt the freedom and safety to think “wildly” because you didn’t know better?  Brown believes this freedom to explore results in far more creative ideas. And creative ideas often hold the seed that takes root and blossoms into a truly innovative solution.

He also encourages people to be more proactive in “building with their hands” because a creative idea doesn’t become innovative until its real, and to get it real, you need to prototype in order to see what is possible. You have to make use of props and other creative tools to begin to pull together how something might look in 3D.

Finally, Brown and his team at IDEO believe in the virtues of role-playing which, let’s face it, most corporate folks abhor. We feel self-conscious and tend to downplay the legitimacy of adults acting out how an experience might play out. They believe that role-play can really help you see if something will work (or not) and it also forces teams to really commit to what they’re doing.

So, do you want to be more innovative? Make time to play!

What would you do if you could “play” with your challenges instead of “enduring” or “overcoming” them?

More about Lisa

Lisa Parker has extensive experience in leadership strategy, team building, organization development and assessments, and innovation process management. Her specialties are building innovation-capable organizations, team dynamics and communication, emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, design thinking and change, transition management, and the creative process. Follow her on Twitter @Stratovationist.

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