The nature of organisational work is that it is: serious, stressful, routine, and draining. This is the exact opposite of the conditions required to encourage individual creativity. According to Harvard Business Schools Teresa Amabile, “whatever an individual’s talents… the conditions under which he or she works – can significantly increase or decrease the level of creativity produced.”
It’s important for organisations to shift workers out of the workplace (space) and into an innovation space. An innovation space incorporates elements of both work and play, but is different to work in a few fundamental ways: An innovation space is relaxing, free, unpredictable, energising and Imaginative. According to Pamela Meyer an Innovation “playspace” is “the space we create as we engage in the risky business of looking further than our predecessors, learning in ways that may shift long held beliefs and laying ourselves open to the possibility of significant change.” This can be both frightening and exhilarating as we realise the the potential the future holds and sadly impossible to achieve within the confines of a traditional “workspace”.
In order for an environment to be “innovation-friendly” it needs to embrace 3 play-values – CHANGE, LEARNING and IMAGINING.
Innovation cannot exist without new learning, similarly learning cannot happen without an open and imaginative mind. Openness to Change is also a key component of both learning and imagining.
Everyone has experienced the opposite of a playspace, where ideas are censored, where maintaining the status quo is more important than tapping into the organisational potential for new ideas and growth. Organisations cannot thrive or even survive in this mode, and overtime creative and energetic people migrate to more creative environments. Some organisations have found ways of creating an intervention to the stifling nature of workspace and conduct Innovation Camps where an Innovation Playspace can thrive.