Balancing Work and Play Increases Innovation

"Not now, but right now," used to be my motto.  As a young, self-employed single mom with a fixer-upper house and a penchant for saving the world, I was constantly working, and working fast.  No to-do list was safe from my obliterating pace.  In FEBI parlance, I was a Driver-Organizer. 

Luckily, I was also a poet.

On Sundays, I'd drive my car to some dead-end road, climb into the backseat with my journals and scraps of ideas, and I'd write.  I'd lose myself, and find myself, in that quintessentially Visionary practice.

Today, on my FEBI assessment, I score in the high range on Visionary and in the moderate range for Driver, Organizer, and Collaborator—in that order.  Even though I perform improvisationally in Alligator Mouth Improv—and no activity I can think of takes more Collaborator energy than that—I still find it hard to relax into the sheer joy of Collaborator.  There's always a voice saying, "But there's so much to do!"

That's why I'm always trying to cultivate a voice that argues, "But you can get a lot accomplished by playing!"  And I'm always on the look-out for Collaborator mentors and role models—people who understand and live in this easy-going pattern.  These folks are playful and fun to be around, but they get a lot done!  They build consensus, multi-task with glee, roll with the punches, and value many points of view.

Tim Brown is just such a role model.  He is the CEO of the innovation and design firm IDEO, which has earned 1,000 patents since 1978 working with clients ranging from AT&T to Toyota to Gap.  Check out this speech he gave at "Serious Play: The 2008 Art Center Design Conference."  He reminds us that in order to take creative risks (i.e., earn patents), we need to work/play in a relaxed, comfortable, trust-based environment—and gives us plenty of examples.  He even gives us a few playful ideas we can try right away.  (Click on the image to start the video.)

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Sean Lukasik wrote:
Great first post and a really nice website! Glad I could help out and be a part of it!

Thu, September 30, 2010 @ 2:01 PM

2. Michael Czarnecki wrote:
Glad you are a poet! Love the line "I'd lose myself, and find myself."
Losing yourself in words, finding your self in words. Constant rediscovery of who we really are.

Wed, October 13, 2010 @ 8:52 PM

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