When was the last time you were just playing? Do you remember creating a shared world with others and discovering something new and unknown? And does your thinking relate more to your childhood and less to work?
In my workshops I’m applying the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®-method. With this method we play seriously and with a goal in mind to solve a challenge or problem. This way we reach goals faster and work out creative solutions the participants have not even thought of before.
However, when I talk about these workshops, I sometimes get incredulous looks or hear sentences like “I wouldn’t know how to explain to my colleagues that we “only” play. And we do that with LEGO also.” Among adults, playing is sometimes frowned on as purposeless, pointless and inefficient. I strongly oppose this view.
What does playing mean for adults?
Einstein said: “The original source of all technical achievements is the divine curiosity and the play instinct of the tinkering and brooding researcher…”
In daily routine, adults often focus on functioning and completing tasks within a short timeframe. But in addition to work we need play.
Through play we become more curious, more creative, use our imagination and try out new things. This also makes it easier for us to put ourselves in the shoes of others. We deal with our fellow players and thus promote social cohesion at the same time. Playing therefore also leads to an increase of our social skills. Cooperation only becomes tangible when people solve a task together. This can happen in a game or in real life.
During the game, we test different types of behaviour and discover that things become possible that we previously thought were difficult to solve. We face complex problems, fail without running risk and learn from our mistakes. We playfully develop strategies that help us in the real world.
Even with small successes in the game, our brain releases endorphins and gives us a feeling of happiness – no wonder that we prefer to play than to attend a meeting or training session.
No game without rules
Games are based on rules that create a safe space. This makes it easier for us to open up and to perceive our environment in a more comprehensive and complex way. It promotes our multidimensional thinking and expands our perception of our complex environment with all its influencing factors. We discover new solutions and possibly get to know unfamiliar ways of looking at things.
In brief, whenever we play,
- we approach questions with an open mind and try out new things.
- we stimulate curiosity, creativity and imagination.
- we think multi-dimensionally and take a more comprehensive view of our environment.
- we discover new qualities.
- we test and fail, from which we can learn.
- we develop strategies and more and more creative solutions that we can implement in the real world.
- we deal with ourselves and our fellow players.
- we increase social cohesion and our social competence.
So as adults we should dispose of the courage to play more again. Especially for topics such as change management, team, leadership and organizational or strategic development, playing is perfectly suited.
Let’s play together again and more – because there is hardly a more exciting, free, challenging and effective way to solve tasks. And it’s fun too!