Blog series: Fun - Key ingredients for innovation
"Fun is one of the most important -- and underrated -- ingredients in any successful venture. " Richard Branson
Who could imagine that one of the ingredients of success is FUN? There are many studies that show the benefits of fun in innovation; various articles have also been published validating the return on investment when there is FUN in the workplace. For example, Benefits Of Fun In The Workplace by Kathy Oden-Hall lists such benefits. We also hear a lot about organizations such as Google and Pepsi talking about how they have increased their profits by allowing and creating a fun space for their employees.
So, what is holding you back?
I hear so many reasons why my clients say it is not good to have fun; the list is endless. It’s especially true when I work with male executives and women in all business roles. Most of them believe that the only way to get respect from others is to be serious; to work hard and be taken seriously, they need NOT have fun. Previous generations in our society created the misconception that if you are having fun, you must not be working. They separated work and play and made play a bad word, a bad thing to do. So, it is natural that our brains, which have been wired to think poorly of fun, shut down at the sight of it.
However, things are changing. The new wave of workers is opening up the topic of fun and IS actually creating fun environments in their places of work. So, what continues to hold people back? From my vantage point, it’s habits, mindset and fear! I often give talks for organizations that are redesigning their culture and feel, and I am invited to discuss the art of happiness at work. I often end my talk by reminding the employees that, even IF their employer builds an amusement park in their building and adds paid wellness days-off and other benefits, unless THEY (employees) are ready to embrace that, receive it and have FUN with it, it is just another meaningless thing.
If you are looking for permission from someone to have fun, you have mine :)
Bringing fun into the workplace
Let's say you have started thinking differently about fun. Let's say you are thinking, “Actually this may not be a bad thing at all." The question is then, how do you get started?
Well, here are some tips and ideas that I have either seen work with my clients I work or suggestions that I have made to them -- and inspiration grew from that.
RELAX.- Once you made the decision that you want to bring fun to your department, team or organization, RELAX. It will give you a chance to be more authentic in your approach and in the way you introduce this to your tribe.
BE REALISTIC so you are chilled out and ready to introduce new FUN factors. Take some time to look over those ideas; take a step back and see what fits and how you can introduce it slowly.
GAMES anyone? Yes, you read it and you've seen it. Bring in board games, ping pong tables, foosball tables: anything that really invites and welcomes the inner child who is dying to have fun. I have visited clients’ offices where they have creative spaces that include robotics; others have comfy rooms furnished with game consoles. Don't let the tech examples fool you; Scrabble or other board games work just as good when introduced to the right group of people.
WELLNESS at work. - for a lot of people Zumba, yoga or jogging is FUN. They work well for teams that enjoy doing physical activities. These activities can be held from once a month to weekly -- again, determine what works for your tribe
VOLUNTEERING. Another activity that is very popular is giving back to the community. Many people enjoy the act of getting together and cleaning a shelter, cooking a meal for the less fortunate or walking dogs from local shelters.
Fun factor in innovation - why?
To wrap it all up, innovation may be a tricky experience. Failing often to find the right solution does take its toll on people. Meeting deadlines and sticking to budgets can be stressful and demotivating. Preparing for interviews, doing research, building prototypes, testing over and over, iterating, testing again, bringing departments together to realize the idea, drafting a business canvas, documenting the entire journey… it can (key word, can) be/feel/look daunting, However when you are having fun working with your team, interviewing your customers, trying and changing, building and failing, it all becomes a big game -- and what child does not like a game?
Fun is a key ingredient because it is the magic, the secret weapon, the one item that will really push you out of your comfort zone and into innovative solutions.
Self-work: Time to reflect and grow
Ready to uncover the fun factor inside you? Take some time to reflect on the questions below. As always, be honest; it is necessary if you want these ideas to make sense and connect. If you really want to push yourself further, I'd like to invite you to reflect on the questions below with a partner; have fun with it!
On a scale from 1 to10 (1=not at all; 10= a lot), how much fun are you currently having with your team or in your innovation role?
What are some things that you define as fun (e.g., tasks, activities, etc.)?
How might you be able to fit any of the above into your organization or team to increase the fun factor?
What resources do you currently have within reach to support you to implement one of your ideas (e.g., co-workers, connection with decision-makers, existing plans or ideas)?
How committed are you to really having fun at work? If you are struggling with this one, send me an email; let's unblock the commitment and get you started. (link to complimentary 30-minute session)
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible". Walt Disney
Until next time!
Your Innovision Coach