At school I used to get to the playground early “Play” British Bulldog (a childhood game in English Schools). “Learn” by challenging concepts and applying techniques in lessons, before going home to watch Neighbours, do “Homework” and then hang out with friends. Play
My first boss in Switzerland said he wanted someone who delivered but also knew how to have fun. There is a need to have fun, play and explore the environment, product, industry and people that we work with in order to grow. Too often we get into work, turn our email on, only to see an extortionate amount of unopened messages, and embark on our day. What if we did things differently? What if we had activities that enabled exploration? This could be as small as hanging out to have coffee together, playing cards, hackathons what is important is that the activity needs to be culturally relevant.
Now the obvious challenge is where would the time come from. I have seen so much time being spent in organisations on things that are no longer needed, or non-value adding. The challenge is to break the status quo, question their value and where they are not productive stop the task. Not many organisations do this. If we were to give ourselves more time back we could get into a more productive cycle that moves us away from myopic to macro thinking. Secondly it does not have to be a liner activity, so it could happen at any time of the day.
At school we learnt across a variety of subjects, which bred entrepreneurship, innovation and development. We too often put people into a Job Description. I have many passions, and skill sets and not just for the one that I no work in. There should be more sharing across functions, and jobs should be able to be multi faceted. I would even go as far to say that your employees should be able to wear a customer, competitor and or CEO hat on regular sessions. This would stimulate their brain on customer requirements, being competitive, thinking what could destroy the company and generate solutions. This environment to create and challenge employees seems to be easier in start-ups, but there is a need to develop this way of thinking in more traditional organisations. Google allow 20% of time for an employee to develop on a project of their choice, why is this a rare facet for a company?
This is not to take work home. Past school age we have acquired responsibilities: children, families, hobbies and a life! What homework does require is a passion to reflect. If employees are passionate about what they do, then have a mindset to reflect and think what can I do to improve it, which often can feed back into playtime.