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The Role of Fun in Innovation

July 9th, 2014 Comments off

Attending the mind-blowing sessions at the NASSCOM Product Conclave is really just a microcosm of our on-going intensity to innovate and drive new profits. The macrocosm reflected by these intense events should be a daily, hourly habit of pushing the limits at every level.

What makes these events and individual sessions so universally potent? It has to do with a human experience that drives back to the dawn of civilisations: our need to have fun. Product Conclave is loads of fun! This itself is a huge take-away.

The Power of Play

We’re all very familiar with the casual vibes that many American start-ups have adopted in the workplace.  Rollerblades or bicycles are provided to traverse HQ. Meeting spaces are plush like living rooms. Games and toys are strewn about to inspire play during innovation sessions.

Why was this strategy adopted? Obviously, when we have fun we innovate, because innovations are fun to discover.

This behavioural circuit should be engaged at many levels of a start-up or project team. Just look at giants like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter that pamper employees if you doubt the accepted wisdom of engendering workplace empowerment for all employees and stake-holders.


Consistent Enthusiasm

The trick, of course, for manager or CEOs is to encourage the right balance of play in workflows. If the team’s mission is clearly expressed and comprehended at every tier of operations, then each member’s conscience and ambition will moderate their merriment at work.

The great thing about an organisation that has internalised the power of enjoying oneself even during the most intense work sessions is that such an organisation very likely understands itself well.

The presence of productive play is evidence of shared confidence, as opposed to intensity driven by fear of failure or anxiety passed down from management.


Instilling Workforce Fun

The question is, how to strike the right balance? Every company, start-up or seasoned organisation must find its own fun vibe. Applying some outside plan (adding toys to the coffee room) will probably fall flat and seem contrived.

Who are the team members? What do they like, as people? What kind of humour is shared? All managers and team leaders should understand such things. The workplace should be viewed first as a community space.

The truth is, enthusiasm (and having the freedom to express it while working) is a crucial aspect of maximum performance. If you think about it, with so much evidence surfacing about the wonders of sleep for the brain, really progressive companies might even consider incorporating power naps to keep those creative brains primed.

All of this may point to something: the more we can be human at work, the more useful that work is for humans. If so, there’s a good piece of advice here for leaders, especially the top dogs: You must be role models in your capacity to have fun!


Wisdom from Above

There is no better encouragement to every doer and thinker in the group than a leader who knows how to enjoy the whole scene. No matter what, it’s always fun to communicate harmoniously — just liberating that one behavioural moment in workflows could do wonders (without the budget to build indoor playgrounds).

Companies that adopt more social media features on Intranets, for example, or allow users to have a little fun whenever it greases interactions, are on the right track. Once the leadership is patterning the essence of keeping work fun — even when dealing with outside organisations, representing the team — a new charisma will spread throughout ‘business as usual’.



All this grand vision might boil down to those private moments that descend upon a CEO or Founder, while quietly in one’s office, perhaps seeking for the perfect word or a new marketing concept. At such moments, even the top dog needs a moment of fun or relaxation in order to keep setting the right example with oneself, in the pursuit of productivity.

That therapeutic dose of fun could be anything. A quick throw of darts. Some spins on the stationary bicycle. Mini-hoops. A walk around the building. cheap car rental But better yet is a quick and relaxing diversion that keeps the brain sharp, too. example would be to take a moment and play where various mobile apps delivering games of skill or chance are readily available, and inexpensive.

Crazy as it sounds, fun, whatever its expression at a local level, simply builds success-minded team members and drives innovation. Try it and find out!

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