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The Playground – Thinking Partner

The Playground

As children, we set ourselves no limits to our imagination. “What if?” and “why not?” are favourite questions. In our Western education system, we tend to focus on developing left-brain rational, linear thinking, setting objectives and making the reaching of those objectives our only goal. Along the way, many ideas are rejected as not doable, crazy, not our core business etc. In a competitive society where innovation is necessary, we need our right brains capacities of curiosity, experimentation, suspension of judgement, considering the journey as important as the final destination. It should also be FUN. We can then engage our left brains to put our ideas into practice.

In order to stimulate right brain thinking, it is useful to create an atmosphere of play. This can be a permanent “brain-storming” room or a specific, customized workshop. We can also take inspiration from the Google “playground” offices with their toboggans, comfy chairs

Below are some pointers as to how to create such an atmosphere, taken from real situations I facilitated.


The design thinking process:


Organizing a playground space:

Organized chaos… As is said of Hamlet “though this be madness, yet there’s method to it” The facilitator needs to ensure trust but also a strong structure to achieve results. In other words, this is a place for right brains to experiment and have fun at the same time being monitored and gently guided by a lot of left-brain preparation.
High stools, comfortable chairs. Whatever it takes…
Everyone has a different “I’m paying attention” position

Always warm up…

A “crossed portraits” exercise… Establishing a trusting and non-judgemental environment is of great importance in order to be prepared for the work on real issues
Draw your ideas… When people draw, they are as focussed as children at play. No room for textos, emails etc. They also communicate and collaborate and most of them have fun doing it.
Get physical… Anything (within reason…) to get warmed-up in a non-intellectual way and connect with others in the group differently.
Lego, post-its, Coca-Cola, sunglasses… The more attractive and surprising the playground, the better.

Participants may not be accustomed to engaging whole brain or having the freedom to express themselves differently. Thinking Partner will do her best to ensure a smooth and fun transition…