Let’s play with Pollution!

Today I went to the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven which has a great exhibition made by graduates of the Design Academy. One of the more “funny” contributions was created by Tomm Velthuis called Playing Food. Normally children aren’t allowed to play with their food, but he has made wooden packages to play with unsustainable environments like the meat industry. Or you can play with the Rainforest, including a tree and a chainsaw. Ok, it’s really cynical. Combining innocence and reality, but I like the over-the-top thinking and playfull approach of his work (Website). Who want’s to play with nuclear powerplants…?

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National Institute for Play: Play state in Complexity

The National Institute for Play investigates Play. They have chosen a good name I would say. Why do people and animals play? And what would also the benefit be for professionals in organizations to play in certain situations? I think their approach is interesting to facilitate more scientific research on the topic, so we can support managers who have (most of the time) a focus on efficiency. 

“Demand for workers who understand complexity is increasing. Over 75% of the U.S. work force does information work which requires workers to collaborate with other information workers to make judgments and solve complex issues.

The practices that organizations need to be developing for their increasingly complex information work are those which infuse the state of play into their workers’ attitudes. They need to learn how to do the work of their organizations in a play state.

Our experiences indicate that executives require sufficient immersion in the science of play before they understand and value it. The intellectual and scientific basis of play can provide the understanding – and permission – to deploy new play-based practices in their organizations. But, they must also value the new practices; without a positive play ethic, the climate for innovation is spoken of as important, but is not acted upon.” (The National Institute for Play)

Founder Stuart Brown on Ted.com:

He doesn’t say it very playful, but most trainers train in subjects they have had some trouble with, because else they wouldn’t understand why it is so important:)

Dream pitches “How to create things and have them matter”

Today I went to the Dreampitches of the Harvard course “How to create things and have them matter” (ES20). This course is facilitated by David Edwards, the founder of the ArtScience Labs (see previous blog). Harvard undergraduate and graduate students have worked in mixed teams to imagine ways of skiing in balls, talking in halls (in post-Google ways) – and making art through physical rehabilitation. I saw some ‘naive prototypes’, which underlined their ambition to dream.

I found it interesting that most of the prototypes had a focus on connecting people facilitated by a new kind of social media. Fun and gaming were aspects that were mentioned often, with the intention to make it more attractive for people to act. None of the groups had invented something useful but boring (for instance a new machine to clean your toilet, a new fence for my garden, or a new kind of bond). Apparently Fun and Socialization are important when you give young people the space to dream.

I think that it would be interesting to create such an environment / space for professionals in the Netherlands, with the objective to become creative and dream again about the future. What would for instance a mixed team from different industries come up with? A new kind of bank that connects people and with the focus on making the lives of their participants better? Or a training institute were the participants train each other?

Afterwards I spoke shortly with David Ma, a student in this course, about his lessons learned. Thanks David for your flexibility to act in an instant! And thanks to your team mates who said that you were their spokesperson;) They were right!