Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it….. Well, I’m not sure about the last one but someone somewhere has probably done some research on the topic. We humans certainly do it, especially when we’re young. I’m not talking about falling in love but about extending Cole Porter’s observations to a different world, something up there in terms of importance — playing.
Play is a basic animal behaviour and it’s worth asking the evolutionary psychology question of why? Wasting time and energy isn’t a good idea for the survival of any species. So why do human beings play?
Turns out that play is a pretty valuable device. As psychologist Peter Gray suggests play enables us to:
· practice skills that are essential to our survival and reproduction;
· learn to cope physically and emotionally with unexpected, potentially harmful events;
· reduce hostility and enable cooperation;
· generate new, sometimes useful creations.
And it’s that last element which makes it particularly relevant for innovation. Play may be fun — but it has a serious purpose. Our ability to imagine and create lies at the heart of our emergence as a successful species, whose main gift is not in size or strength but in our ability to adapt to hostile and uncertain environments. We innovate, find solutions and alternatives if our first options are blocked off.
This podcast explores the ways in which play is becoming a key tool to help us with the challenge of managing innovation
You can find a transcript here
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