The power of play for innovation and productivity

Have you ever watched a young child scribble with profound determination, their face almost touching the paper (or wall) they are drawing on?

When was the last time you can remember that sense of joy and happiness?

When was the last time you fully engaged in play?

Manifesting Wellness & Direction | Zest e-Biz | Pilbara Retreat


Loosen up; lighten up!

In her book Paint Mojo, Tracey Verdugo questions whether we are wound so tightly in our collective striving for acceptance, belonging, attainment and recognition that we have almost forgotten how to relax, how to play, how to laugh, how to be silly.

At work, and in business, it seems we have forgotten how to have fun, to enjoy arriving at work and making a meaningful contribution to our organisation.

Being so focused on improving productivity and forcing innovative solutions, we’ve forgotten how to intuitively be innovative.

The F!SH Philosophy developed after a visit to the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, has helped many organisations bring more teamwork, enthusiasm and positive attitudes to work.

Essentially the four aspects of the F!SH Philosophy are:

·      Play – don’t forget to have fun at work

·      Make their day – we are all human after all

·      Be there – turn up, be part of a team and contribute

·      Choose your attitude – because no-one else will

If you truly want to transform your organizational culture, check out this great trailer all about FISH! Culture.


Creative therapy for innovation and productivity

Australian Creative Arts Therapies Association president Nyrelle Bade says traditional therapies only work on a cognitive level and often don’t go any deeper.


She says, “Accessing the unconscious, the whole body and beyond the body into the heart and feelings can reveal what’s really important…”

As a result, many people are led to alternative therapies to improve wellbeing.

The same can be said for trying to solve problems in an analytical manner. We often miss key insights or take far longer to reach a solution when we are so focused on the end game, rather than the process.

In a great podcast interview on the Tim Ferris show Roger Rodriguez, film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor, and musician talks about the process of continually producing innovative stuff.

He says you just need to start.

Sometimes whilst cartooning, Rodriguez would stare at a blank page, then go away and lie on his bed in another room staring at the ceiling hoping to come up with the magic formula so he could just sit down and create great work.

But he realised, it was only when he started drawing and trying different ideas that eventually he’d come up with something cool.

He says, “You’ll only get the idea once you start.”

Using another analogy, Rodriguez says,

“There is something that happens when you go to lecture, or teach, it’s kinda like opening that pipe.

You go to talk with the intention – it’s all intention based – of giving people who are looking for answers or strategies, something they can use.

And out of your mouth will come things that you are then going and writing down yourself thinking ‘Woah, that’s pretty good advice, where did that come from?’

That’s cos it’s you’re letting it flow, it’s not you, you’ve gotten out of the way at that point.”

Mix things up to let innovation flow

Earlier this year I facilitated a staff planning day for the awesome crew at Pilbara Health Network.

The day was focused on getting clarity and direction in uncertain times. We talked about dealing with change, starting with why and understanding the benefits of mindfulness in the workplace.

Each session touched on their core purpose for operating.

Why they do what they do here in the Pilbara.

Why each member of staff was committed to getting out of bed to come to work and make a difference.

During one of the sessions we created vision boards to visually capture why they do what they do as an organisation, similar to the vision board exercise at the ‘Manifesting Wellness & Direction’ retreat held earlier this year.

To mix things up a bit, and inject a bit of fun into the day, I got out my son’s lego!

I got small teams to create their ideal vision of what their organisation does out of lego.

This was the first time I’d tried this exercise with a large group. And the results spoke for themselves.

Common themes about accessibility to healthcare services and an inviting, warm entrance were not so obvious during the verbal session workshopping why they do what they do, or in the vision board exercise.

But almost all the lego creations had some kind of out-reach vehicle. And a lot of care and attention when into the entrance of the main building.

Don’t default to 2D thinking for innovative solutions

Ultimately we live and operate in a 3D world. So why do we revert so quickly to 2D problem solving?

The process of creating a vision board is not only therapeutic, I believe it also delivers a more complete picture (pardon the pun) of a desired state.

How can we possibly think we can plan and formulate a vision for the future of our organisations simply with words on paper?


If you’d love to take some time out to get clarity around some big goals for 2016, Amanda Ewin from The Lilac Lounge and I are bringing back the ‘Manifesting Wellness & Direction’ retreat to the Pilbara on Saturday 21st November 2016.

Click HERE more info and the flyer complete with registration details.

Or, why not check out the gorgeous new Karratha Collective website and get a FREE ‘Get-Shit-Done’ notebook when you register for the retreat via their shop before midnight this Sunday 8th Nov.

Simply go to Click on the retreat and book your spot now!


Here are some of the awesome creations from the Pilbara Health Network staff planning day from staff who said:

  • “The importance of connecting to your playful side resonated most with me during the day.”
  • “It was nice to practise playing.”
  • “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It is nice to spend some time getting back to your roots.”
  • “Excellent [day]. Noticed a difference in the feel of the office today. Everyone seems more relaxed/happier to be here.”

PHN Staff Planning Day | Zest e-Biz

PHN Staff Planning Day | Zest e-Biz

PHN Staff Planning Day | Zest e-Biz

PHN Staff Planning Day | Zest e-Biz


One thought on “The power of play for innovation and productivity

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge