Why the Future of Work is PLAY seriously!

The growing need to stay relevant and thrive in the rapidly evolving consumer-led business landscape is forcing companies to act like start-ups.

The time to transform is now…

Companies today need to build an agile, design-led, customer-focused culture internally but also leverage new technologies to transform consumer experience, marketing, sales & operations, and create new business models.

Per McKinsey’s recent research, design-led firms have grown by more than 200% in the past decade. These top innovative brands are (not surprisingly) consumer-focused companies with a relentless focus on design, technology and culture.

While design-led innovation is now a transformational force, organizations continue to struggle with accelerating change (culture, process, technology) within organization. Having constructive conversations, thinking creatively and storytelling are the much-needed first steps for companies to become more open and agile.


…but we still struggle and how!

While growing up, we were clearly told that work was serious and play was fun. By the virtue of our 18th century education methods, most of us were never taught to have fun with learning, and lost our ability to play and think creatively like a child over time.

We struggle because “Play” and “Work” seem paradoxical.

Today our pre-conceived notions about how work should be done limit our ability to think creatively.


So can we bring back these principles of Play (seriously) into our workplace?

Turns out that curiosity, creativity and collaboration along with being ICT (digitally) literate are some of the the much-needed competencies to survive and grow in the 21st century, as per the World Economic Forum.

Research shows that when we think with our hands and listen with our eyes, we discover a new world to be explored, we untap creativity to make a difference, we define purpose for ourselves.

Play is the very cornerstone of creative learning that involves collaborative, experiential and trial & error learning… and surprisingly enough, these are the same principles of ‘design-led innovation’



Also as things around us become internet-enabled, being digitally illiterate will be like not knowing what do when the lights go off at home today. Problem solving and creativity in technology-enabled environments is no more an option. We all must know what tools to use to keep the lights running. Digital technology keeps our business alive and therefore cultivating playful creativity with technology is the future of sustainable business.

“With AI taking over routine information and manual tasks in the workplace, we need additional emphasis on qualities that differentiate human workers from AI — creativity, adaptability, and interpersonal skills.” – Harvard Business Review, June 2017

Coding, is a cultural change, and the new literacy of the 21st century!

In an excerpt from a recent interview with Jeff Immelt, Chairman of General Electric –

“It doesn’t matter whether you are in sales, finance or operations. You may not end up being a programmer, but you will know how to code . We are also changing the plumbing inside the company to connect everyone and make the culture change possible .”

So if you think coding is only for programmers, think again. It’s a culture change!

“We [GE] need to move quickly, take risks, fail fast and behave like a startup to keep winning,” wrote the CEO, who has been chief since 2001. “We have to embrace decentralization and use technology to help our people to stay connected and allow more automated decision-making so you can look at an app and see what’s going on inside the company.”

GE is more than 100 years old, but coding is part of Immelt’s plan to adopt a “startup-like mentality” to make products that are more digitally driven. This is actually resulting in creation of jobs across the world.

Did you know? In India, startups such as India STEM Foundation, SOAL.in, Mindchamp and Academy of Customer Experience are driving this at schools, graduates, startups and businesses. If you want to know more or be a part of this movement, drop me a note.

So are we ready to PLAY seriously, THINK design and TRANSFORM business? Should this become the new method for innovation in a country that thrives on chaos?

author: avinash jhangiani

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