June 7, 2022
Since I was a child I have loved playing games, whether that be a team sport, video game or just rock paper scissors to decide who’s cooking tea. A sense of play can take any boring or mundane task and give you a reason to engage, to be present and curious.
My parents used to play my sister and I against each other, to see who can load the dishwasher the fastest, whilst they would be sat down as the “timekeepers’’. On reflection it was actually them playing the game, but the competitive side of us both relished the opportunity to win! Either way the dishwasher got loaded and we had fun, so everyone wins.
All personal anecdotes aside, these are some of the core reasons we create playful brand based workshop activities:
When you are a child you are naturally curious about everything. Babies look at things in awe, you hand them an object and they grasp it, stare at it and then proceed to put it in their mouth to find out if they can eat it.
Curiosity is very closely related to creativity. Questioning why something is how it is and wondering if it could be better, is the basis of design. As we grow up we become used to the norm and generally accept how things are done.
"It’s been done like that for years, why would we change" - Glenn down at the local.
There is a lot of danger in just accepting the norm and not challenging it or questioning it. Children are much better at that than us because they aren’t aware of the standard paradigms or social norms. Encouraging a sense of play draws this out of people and encourages that sense of curiosity.
If you take someone out of a normal work environment, give them a childish emoji as a mascot and play games that challenge how they think about problems, it leads to some of the best conversations. It gives people a different perspective on a problem and allows them to come at it from a different angle.
When people can detach from the ‘norm’ they give much more honest answers (e.g the big problem of the business is). Within the activities we do, people often don’t realise that they are defining the personality characteristics of the brand and can have a stronger honest gut instinct of the questions that we ask.
Being in a digital space gives you so much potential to create fun interactive activities. You have infinite space and endless interactions available. All from the comfort of your own home/office.
Running digital workshops has made it significantly more accessible for our clients. They can join in from anywhere and what used to require key decision makers to be out of the business for a whole day is now broken up into 1.5 hours chunks which can fit easily into busy time tables.
This breakdown of our process has also allowed us to improve the service as you have more time in between, to reflect on the conversations you've had and draw key insights. You can also then tailor and adjust the following workshops according to the previous one.
An additional benefit of doing our workshops online means that people are often working from home and there isn’t the omnipresent feeling of a superior at the head of the table (a bit old hat, but there is still often a concern of saying something wrong in front of a superior). We find the digital aspect of our workshops allow people to talk more honestly about issues in the business. We do also follow on with anonymous private interviews if we touch on anything extra juicy and want more detail.
"Often the people with the quietest voices have some of the biggest ideas." - One of our Clients.
Within the collaborative workshops we encourage founders to bring a range of people from the business to ensure we have all perspectives covered. People on the phones selling the product will have a much better idea about what are the most frequently asked questions. Having a variety of stakeholders in the workshop allow us to gather a wealth of ideas from all perspectives of the business.
The workshops can often act as a platform for different parts of the business to have open conversations about the big business challenges. We have often heard it being referred to as brand therapy.
The common phrase of ‘too many chefs can spoil the broth’ is true though. So we ensure that we have built the brand foundations (vision, mission and goals) first with the founders of the company prior to engaging a wider audience.
Doing something you enjoy allows you to think more freely and not force the idea. We started our company to do the work we love and why should we do something that doesn’t fit into our mission. We enjoy playing games so we want that to be a part of our daily work.
“Find something that feels like play to you, but looks like work to others.” - Naval Ravikant
The best ideas aren’t forced, they need time to marinade in your mind. When you force creativity it feels laboured. You don’t have the best ideas when you’re sat down making yourself think 'creatively'. They come to you when you are asleep at 4am, whilst you are washing the dishes or more likely whilst you are playing a game.
Thanks for reading.