Tim Brown on play

I really liked this TED video by Tim Brown of IDEO on creativity and play.

He uses a few practical exercises to liven up the experience, but also to drive home his key points. One in particular dramatises how fearful we are, as adults of the judgement of others – and how this blocks creative thinking. He talks about the value of play in buidling trust and friendship and how valuable this can be in freeing up creative thought.

I particularly liked his championing of using our hands, making physical prototypes to help embody experiences to help redesign things. He also champions the value of roleplaying to explore experiences and help develop ideas. One of his IDEO colleagues underwent a chest wax to help him imagining the experience of patients dealing with pain. One roleplayed a casualty patient holding a video camera:

The output of the video included 20 minutes of staring at this:

Just that one piece of provocation would surely spark a series of thoughts about the patient experience and what might be done to improve it. This isn’t claiming that these experiments capture some absolute truth, but they do help to animate thinking. Far too many “creative sessions” I’ve witnessed involve people sitting in chairs thinking and talking, keeping discussions heady and often rather joyless.

Viv McWaters has done a good digest of her thoughts in response to this entertaining video.

1 thought on “Tim Brown on play

  1. weaverluke

    I was chatting the other evening with an engineer who works on the Mini range at BMW, and he had a similar story: as launch day for a new car approaches, he has got his team to sit around the car and discuss engineering issues, rather than in front of desks as they usually do.

    Aside from generally stimulating more creativity in the group, he said that the quieter team members – who are actually often highly creative – seemed to feel freed up to raise their voices in this ad hoc environment.


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