29th July 2018

What would playful design of your work look like?

Two of my favourite things to do are spending time outside in nature and playing board games. They both give me a real sense of joy and are activities which will often cause a state of flow, meaning that I can play / walk for hours without much sense of how much time is passing.

I played Gloomhaven for the second time last week. It took ages, apparently, but I only know this because family members who were not playing tell me so. It will be faster next time, because we are now largely through the very substantial playing instructions, and have a pretty good idea of what we are doing. When we were done limping through the first scenario, with frequent reference to the rulebook, I felt exhilarated, and wanted nothing more than to carry on to the next one, and didn’t even realise I was hungry, until it was pointed out to me that it was time to eat. We didn’t actually get to play again, but I spent part of the evening maintaining the anticipation by preparing the materials needed for our next session.

Gloomhaven, by the way, is brilliant, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s expensive and very, very heavy (9.8 kilos), but there’s hundreds of hours of great gameplay contained in it, not to mention the potential for creating one’s own scenarios for even more exercise of creativity.

For most people, the flow experience I explain above contrasts very markedly with their experience of work. This may be why play is often seen as the ‘opposite’ of work, as something trivial which can only be indulged in once all your ‘responsibilities’ have been discharged.

One of the things I am working on at the moment is a Lego Serious Play® workshop to help participants to work through how they can bring more playfulness into their life and work. Many of the elements of a truly great ‘game’ are already contained in the working day, meaningful decisions to make, problems to solve, ‘quests’ to undertake, social interaction, unfolding narrative. But for many of us, ‘fun’ is precisely what is missing. I am hoping this workshop will explore what each participant needs for ‘fun’ and ‘flow’ and will help them to work through how much agency they have to ‘design’ their work to maximise their wellbeing and productivity and achieve their goals.

Why did I mention nature in my opening paragraph? Because my next Lego Serious Play ® workshop design will focus on using time in nature to foster mental health resilience.

Watch this space for more details as these workshop takes shape, and information about pilot events.

Image of beautifully painted Gloomhaven miniatures by Paul Hood from Flickr

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