I could, and will, write a whole blog post about just the first sentence of this article.
But I’ll just let you read the whole piece and save that for another day.
Play has a PR problem. Some think of play as frivolous –- a distraction, or worse, a waste of time. In the office, play is often regarded as a break from “real work.” But what if the opposite of play isn’t work, it’s boredom? What if work could actually benefit from play?
As a partner at IDEO, I help instill a playful culture, not only in mindset, but also in our daily behaviors. Play allows us to experiment, empathize and take creative risks. Ask anyone who works at IDEO — having play engrained in our culture makes it an incredibly satisfying place to work. It keeps us engaged in our projects and makes us better innovators.
In preparing to teach a new online course on IDEO U, I’ve been thinking about the behaviors of play that have allowed our team to be successful in developing and executing ideas to meet the needs of a particularly tough group of consumers: kids and their parents. These six behaviors not only manifest themselves in the products we create, but also in our interactions as designers, and I believe they can have a profound impact on every organization’s ability to innovate.
Great insight from Tim Brown of IDEO on how playing in the dirt can forge great leadership skills:
Over the years, I’ve given a lot of thought to what gardening, design, and creative leadership have in common.
Gardening is generative, iterative, and user-centered When designers in our Chicago studio first planted a roof garden, they noticed people were picking and eating the strawberries and tomatoes and leaving the eggplants and tomatillos to rot on the vine. They soon realized that planting a work garden for 60 busy people is very different from planting a home garden for a family of four. Project deadlines simply took priority over cooking, so any plants that took extra steps to prepare were ignored. The next year, the designers planted a “Grab and Go Garden” that contained only fruits and vegetables that could be eaten straight away. This time, more plants were eaten, less were wasted. A good garden, like good design, needs to meet the needs of its users.
Wow, OpenIDEO is on a role lately with their challenges that get my creative juices rolling and my passions up, in a good way! This latest challenge is about wellness in the workplace:
Together with Bupa and the International Diabetes Federation, we’re asking our global community to help us explore how people can best be supported in the workplace to make positive changes to their health and wellness – and what skills and tools are needed to pass these positive changes onto their networks of co-workers, family and friends.
As the Chair of the Wellness Committee at my job for just under a year, we tried out a lot of different wellness incentives, some with better results than others. I feel very passionately about offices promoting and encouraging wellness; we spend the majority of our waking lives there, it’s cheaper in the long run for companies to have healthy and happy workers, and it promotes productivity and dedication from employees.
What are your ideas? Add them to the inspiration. I’ll have to share some of my ideas for this challenge on the blog, as well as my ideas from the previous OpenIDEO challenge I mentioned, which is currently in the concepting phase.
I love these OpenIDEO public challenges, so I was thrilled when I saw this challenge alert pop up in my inbox (and then unfortunately let it get buried for a week, oops!) about ideas on how to make communities more involved and engaged in their environments.
Public agencies such as Singapore’s National Environment Agency would like to envision how to rejuvenate our local environments to inspire and enable communities to make our living environments better – and are eager to collaborate with the global community to explore solutions which resonate in Singapore and across the world.
In this challenge we are looking to try and explore the following questions, both for Singapore and for communities everywhere that face similar challenges.
How might we better collectively solve problems facing our neighbourhoods?
How might communities look out for each other more?
How might we provide a safe space for positive and constructive action?
How might we help passive citizens become active contributors?
How might the role of the government evolve in the future, with regards to local neighbourhoods?
In short, what does community ownership look like in 2012 and beyond? The National Environment Agency invites you to join us in designing better answers, together.
Let’s collect examples of existing initiatives and explore the challenge topic to inform our ideas for the upcoming Concepting phase.
It’s a question that I bring up a lot on the blog, and share different examples of how communities around the world are doing just that, from adding public art to bee and butterfly gardens to building playgrounds. I am bubbling with excitement over this challenge, and have lots of different ideas, but there are only 14 more days to submit ideas and I want to make sure mine are really good, eek!
What have you seen that worked in growing communities to keep the residents and developers motivated to preserve the surrounding environments, rather than bulldoze them over for a quick couple hundred bucks? What are some of your ideas? Have you seen any story of community building on this blog that screams “Yes, this is the answer!”? Submit your ideas at the OpenIDEO website.
The question of how to connect us back to our food is commonly asked these days, from local communities to big companies like IDEO and their Open IDEO challenges. One way to do this is through urban farms, or bringing the farm and local food production to the people. But the logistics of doing this can take on very different looks and feels.
I came across three stories in the past couple of days that all showcase a different reaction to the concept of economizing on local food growing and selling. The different styles seem to be very pro, con, or “social wellness” focused:
For example, in Bellingham, WA, local farms are offering kids classes on local farming practices, and make more money locally through education than actually selling their produce:
Common Threads’ goal is to connect children to food, their community and the environment through what she called seed-to-table education.
At Farm Camp, that included plenty of hands-on stuff for the 3- to 10-year-old children, who split into groups and take turns caring for the turkeys and chickens – do they have enough food and clean water? – as well as the garden.
“Growing stuff takes work and attention,” Plaut said, which is what the camp’s workers and volunteers emphasize to the children.
In Seattle, WA, the approach is definitely more entrepreneurial focused with backyard egg sellers and bee keeping:
CORKY LUSTER is hard-pressed to explain why his beekeeping idea turned into a full-time business and then some.
“People are interested in pollination and food . . . and honey bees have become the poster child for environmental concerns,” he muses.
Luster had a German roommate in college who introduced him to the idea of keeping a few chickens and beehives in the backyard. So when Luster heard about bees dying off and colony collapse disorder a few years ago, he decided to do his bit and set up a few beehives in his garden. Friends were fascinated with the bees — but not so much with all the work involved. The Ballard Bee Company was born, and two years later Luster doesn’t have time to remodel houses anymore.
In Missoula, MT, regulations make it a little bit tougher to sell wares:
Owners of small food enterprises continue to face hurdles doing business in Missoula even as the local food movement grows. At the state level, an effort is beginning to methodically review food safety laws and regulations. Leaders in Missoula say it’s time for some scrutiny on the local front, too, and one food vendor is already on the move.
Kim Olson, the “Empanada Lady,” is working to change at least one rule she said is arbitrary and hurts food vendors. Olson said the Health Department is obligated to enforce state laws, but the rules favor big franchises and leave homegrown shops adrift.
Which approach makes for a better experience of community food selling overall? With the E. Coli outbreak in Germany recently I understand the need for good food regulations, but what if they accidentally favor one kind of business model over another? I’m also curious if a more education focused approach works better than throwing local food sellers into the deep end with all the other commercial ventures? Thoughts? Experiences?