Amy Hodler

Want to Innovate? Remember to Play

Blog Post created by Amy Hodler Employee on Jul 29, 2015

screen-capture-7.pngChildren know how to play. No one has to teach them how to play – and yet somehow, somewhere, we often forget. This, and the question of importance, was the topic of conversation yesterday as I bicycled with a good friend.

We discussed a study that measured the amount of time played and the variety of games created with a new game based on how much direction kids were given. (Anyone remember that study? Please comment with a link if you do!) As you might guess, the kids given the least amount of direction played the longest, created more game variations, and reported having the most fun.

This study illustrates how a sense of play (and less direction!) facilitates exploration, new ideas, and fun. This is the path ideas and experimentation take to cross boundaries and cross pollinate. And that's a key ingredient to innovation because very little is invented in isolation. Encouraging play is probably the simplest way to increase new concept creation and testing.

So how do we encourage play among adults?  I'm sure there's multiple answers for that and there's likely research on the topic, but I'd like to hear how you've promoted play and what outcomes you've experienced.  How does this work within Open Innovation efforts?


For me, playing at work is focused on exploring new ideas and looking for patterns and nuances. (I love information and complexity theories.) And as part of my play, I've recently joined the OTP lead team that will be driving a new innovation program. (I'll talk more about that in the future!) I'm new to participating here in the Innovation Center community but I'm not new to toying with far-out and crazy ideas.  

Now let's play!