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Playing Mind Games In Business

Businessman Holding Illusional TriangleYesterday, I lost my phone.

To some, that sentence would imply the catastrophic consequence of some gaping connectivity gap. What if it stayed lost? What if I had to wait days to replace it? How would I call people from the car or respond to e-mails while walking around?

For me, however, it wasn’t catastrophic so much as it was commonplace. You see, I’m one of those people who loses his phone just about every day. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know the general vicinity. It’s in the house or somewhere in my office. It’s just that, at that particular moment, I can’t put my hands on it.

One of my attorneys happened by my office as I was looking for it. She asked me what I was doing, because what she saw wasn’t the typical picking up of piles of paper and crouching to peer under desks. I was doing what I always do. I stopped, walked about 3/4 of the way around my desk, stopped again and just looked.

I almost always find the things I’m looking for, not by frantic action, but simply by getting up and changing my perspective. Until she asked, I had never really thought anything of it. Didn’t everyone look for things that way? Her answer was “no.”

When I sat down at the computer this morning to write a piece relating to our upcoming Drink ‘N Think on problem solving with LEGO®, I kept coming back to this conversation. To me, problem solving has always been about changing perspective.

Riley Gibson, the CEO of Napkin Labs, writing for Inc. Magazine takes things a bit further. He believes not just in changing perspective, but of also adopting a culture of play to bring innovation to serious work. He cites the “super creativity” of kids, attributing that ability to limitless imaginations.

“At Napkin Labs, when we have a problem to solve, we often try to step back and emulate a child-like state of mind, essentially ignoring reality. Yes, many of the ideas put forward will never work, but the act of stretching our minds often times leads to a breakthrough.”

Eric Holtzclaw, also writing for Inc. takes it a step further: “Playing games impacts the brain positively by increasing motivation, improving memory, driving efficiency, and…enhancing feelings of empathy among your team.”

Truth to tell, I’ve never organized a play date with my team. I understand the theory, and it sounds logical when I read what Eric Holtzclaw and Riley Gibson have to say on the subject. I also watched Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play games to succeed at Google in The Intern, so I certainly feel as if I know everything there is to know on the subject – except for one thing:

If I’ve learned over the years that changing perspective was a key tool in finding something previously lost, and I’ve read how some very smart people use games and playtime to move their companies forward, then why have I waited so long to try it?

I’m going to try my hand at it on April 23rd at our Drink ‘N Think. Who knows where it may go from there.

Join us, won’t you?

Drink ‘N Think: Tackling Challenges using Design Thinking and LEGO® 

Hunt Valley, Maryland | Wagonheim Law
Thursday, April 23, 2015 from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM (EDT)
Register Now