Play is the highest form of work.
Adopting a playful approach to work is essential for modern organizations. The nature of work is vastly different from what it was 20 years ago. Knowledge work and human services require different skills, structures, and styles of work than those of the 19th- and 20th-century industrial economies.
Traditional organizational practices don’t work any more; instead, the best model for modern work is play.
Surprised? Don’t be. Even though playing is usually viewed as frivolous, distracting, or (most often) the opposite of work, playing is essential for modern businesses. Play is both self-motivating and self-satisfying, and players will often push themselves extremely hard for no other reason than the thrill of doing so. Imagine the impacts on work, if it were more like play.
Structured properly, work can be an adult’s form of play. Creating an environment where your team is playing their jobs leads to greater satisfaction, creativity, and especially, productivity: great places to work outperform others by a factor of 2 to 1.
Playful teams approach work in a significantly different way than others.
An interruption in workflow, movement by a competitor, or any number of other setbacks can cause a major disruption for a business team. Similarly, challenging projects or other internal issues can make it hard for good people to work together.
In a playful culture, team members react to these issues differently than normal workplace teams. They have a resilient attitude towards challenges, and can adapt their approach to maximize their direct expertise. Like a team on a playing field, they can efficiently reorient themselves towards a new approach, and in doing so, strengthen their trust in each other and pride in their work.
Cultural values need structures and processes to support them, and we can think of these like games.
Just as a playful approach can be applied to work, creating game-like structures for business processes is an exceptionally powerful way create engagement at work. These don’t usually look like the games you’re used to - often, they look like work. But thinking about them as games makes it much easier to understand and implement them, for two important reasons:
1. Everybody knows how to play games.
Even though there are literally millions of different games, everyone knows how to learn, play, and evaluate games in general. While games can range from silly to serious, they all contain fundamentally similar characteristics that make them easy for people to understand. Creating processes that act like games is a huge advantage when introducing new systems into your workplace, where adoption of processes by all employees is essential.
2. Games adapt to suit their players.
Games change and grow all the time - think about the last game you played that had "house rules." Games change because everyone, intuitively, is able to evaluate a game and determine if they like it immediately upon playing it, and suggest changes that will make the game better for them.
At Flywheel, we don't believe there's a single system that works for every company. Instead, we believe that each company is unique, and that companies can create workplace processes that suit them best in the same way we create and change games.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, learning to create and play workplace games is the most practical way to realize tremendous benefits in productivity, innovation, retention, and impact. We created Flywheel after spending the last decade helping adults re-learn how to play, and how to channel playing into productive work.
Learn how our innovative approach to cultural transformation can work for your company.