Playing to innovate – learning to do things just for the hell of it
This week our Friday film is an interview with the lovely Matt Ballantine from Stamp London, done at this year’s Silicon Beach (one of my favouritest conferences in the world). In between doing this interview and posting it, Matt has written a rather popular piece for the site. And I’d love him to write lots more because he’s a smart man.[clickToTweet tweet=”Organisations have lost the ability to do things for the sheer hell of it” quote=”Organisations have lost the ability to do things for the sheer hell of it”]
Matt works on ways to help people play because organisations have lost the ability to do things for the sheer hell of it. Which is a problem if you want to do things differently. It’s OK to have a goal in mind but you need to be open to how you’re going to get there. In this chat, he mentions a lovely analogy that he wrote about in his article – that organisations treat innovation in pretty much the same way as kids treat Lego.
There are three modes:
Combat battle mode
Occasionally Matt’s young boys will just throw pieces of Lego across the room at each other. No surprise there. But as he points out, many companies do something similar with innovation, just throwing bits of technology at a problem. It’s not ideal. He also points out the trend of PR-tech, where companies produce technology just to for the coverage they’ll get rather for ongoing value. It’s not the best place for their innovation efforts.
This is all about building to instructions. It’s what you do when you get a special edition Lego kit. Big organisations are hardwired to work this way; to create processes that can be repeated to achieve known outcomes. That’s all well and good if you know what the problem is and what the solution is. But across industries, companies need to solve problems they’ve never encountered before.
This is all about putting things together to see what you’ll get, the way that kids grab whatever Lego bricks are within reach to create their own thing. They’re using their imagination to explore ideas. This is the mode that organisations find difficult because they don’t know what outcome they’ll reach. Some companies get it. They may be working to an objective but they understand they need to let people tinker and adapt to get there.
Matt helps people and businesses build the muscle for play. It’s a challenge because play isn’t seen as work. However, it’s an important thing to do. Play helps people get past their cultural restrictions and fear of failure to simply experiment more.
Matt offers us a couple of more insights.
Playful people tend to have a diverse network
Most people aren’t diverse in the way they network. They just meet with people who do the same stuff and think the same way. It’s important to network with people from different backgrounds so that you can cross-pollinate ideas.
It’s not about having a point
Play is not about asking ‘what is this for?’ but asking ‘what can I get this to do?’ The people who take advantage of emerging technologies are the ones who ask ‘how can I play with this?’ If you’re waiting for a manual, you just end up following what everyone else is doing.
If you want to get Matt’s help for your organisation, go and say hello to him at Stamp London.
Big thanks to Silicon Beach for giving us access to such smart people. If you can make it down Bournemouth way on 19th January, I’ll be hosting their Open Sauce event. Grab your tickets while they’re hot.https://openforideas.org/blog/2016/12/09/playing-to-innovate-learning-to-do-things-just-for-the-hell-of-it/https://i2.wp.com/openforideas.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/matt_play.jpg?fit=1024%2C576&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/openforideas.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/matt_play.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Videobattle,combat,diverse,IKEA,instructions,lego,network,play,Stamp,tinkering