Thursday, 29 October 2009

Play, creativity and innovation

Those who study creativity find that the process is by nature contradictory and paradoxical... Many of the paradoxes of creativity are embodied in play.” Brown p136

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I recently spoke with the executive of a worldwide engineering company with labs in the United States, the Czech Republic, and China. He was troubled that the highly trained engineering personnel in China were not coming up with many new ideas, techniques or technology. The U.S. and Czech teams were doing well, with the United States in the lead.

As a result of being convinced that play and innovation were inseparable, he established a 'play week' on an island off the China coast and a similar 'camp' in the Czech republic. The Chinese engineers showed a bump in morale and productivity, and thereafter games and free time for imaginative invention were integrated into the workweek. The engineers not only worked better together, but also came up with more effective ways to work and more original solutions for design problems.” p200 

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Play helps to loosen up the mind, says Brown. A mind at play can imagine endless possible solutions, not get stuck, let things go, adapt and work easily with others.

One particularly famous scientist I know told me that the secret of his brilliant ideas is that he has a really big wastebasket. He lets himself enjoy thinking up and throwing out one hundred bad ideas before finding the single good one.” p141

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