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Play is spontaneous and pleasurable but, more importantly, it accelerates and derisks learning. When we’re kids, it helps us to try out new behaviors, to refine those behaviors and to imagine what is not but what could be or what will be. Martin Reeves, a business strategist dealing with adults, argues that, in fact, play in business is not just possible: it’s essential and even urgent. Here’s why.

TED

Why Play is Essential for Business

Why Play is Essential for Business

ted.com

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Competitive advantage fades away faster than any time in recent memory. In the 1980s, if you had a performance edge over your competitors, you could reasonably expect to continue being a leader for around 10 years, on average. But now the half-life of that advantage has shrunk to just one...

But that’s not so simple if you already have a highly successful business model. We become prisoners of the mental models that underpin our past success. In fact, Martin Reeves found in dealing with businesses that you can’t really stretch your strategy unless you stretch...

Let’s suppose that you’re stuck in the rut of seeing the world through the lens of your past and current success. Reeves would recommend the “Anti-Company Game,” and here’s how it works. You get a piece of paper, you create a list of everything which is essential to your strategy - everyt...

You’re the CEO of a hotel chain. Inconveniently, you don’t actually own any hotels or any rooms or even operate any hotels or any rooms anywhere. Ridiculous -quite possibly - but actually, how would you know the difference between ridiculous and the merely unfamiliar, untried and uncomfor...

On the edge of your industries - on the edge of every industry - are a population of maverick companies that are taking a bet against the incumbents’ business model and their view of the future. Actually, they have no choice because to be a miniature version of the incumbent would not be ...

“Do these mavericks know what they’re doing? Does their business model make sense? Will they ever make any money?”

But instead of judging them from the comfort and the confidence of your position, try assuming that it’s they that have the right bet on the future. Think abou...

You are the CEO of a company that makes equipment that makes semiconductors. Naturally, you’d probably spend most of your time and attention on your main customer industry, the electronics industry. And if it so happened, that a couple of maverick bioscience companies were tinkering with your pat...

But actually, Brooks Automation, a leader in the field, decided to take a close-up look at such a group of mavericks to see whether it could learn anything. And it realized that, actually, the same techniques and technologies which can be used to handle delicate semiconductors can also be applied...

Now, not everything in business goes according to plan. In fact, sometimes the plans go horribly awry. But you know what? That can be a source of inspiration, too. Enter the “Pre-Mortem Game”: your role in this game is to write the obituary for your company, which is going to fail with 10...

The challenge in the “Pre-Mortem Game” is that it’s easy to be seduced into the baseline fallacy. The baseline fallacy is the idea that it’s the current business model which is the low-risk bet. And of course that tends to be true until it isn’t true, at which point it’s probably too late...

Your employees are an early-warning indicator. They will have intuitions if the model begins to slip, but it’s very hard for them to speak up. And it’s even taboo for them to speak up when the business model is under pressure. But when executives create playgrounds - spaces for t...

It’s probably been quite a while since we last visited the local banking branch, right? Had bricks-and-mortar banks played the “Pre-Mortem Game,” perhaps they would have heard their employees expressing some concerns about the gradually dwindling flow of customers to local branches. And perhaps t...

It’s only when you bring your vulnerabilities into full view in this way that you may be motivated to reimagine your business and to do so in a robust manner. It’s why the Roman Catholic Church invented the role, the position of the Devil’s advocate in the 16th century to test th...

Any human being, any employee, any team and therefore any company can harness human imagination. It’s a defining trait of our species. Failures to imagine in business are really failures of leadership. Business is a serious matter, but it should not exclude play. When leaders embrace play...

Successful business strategy is about actively shaping the game you play, not just playing the game you find.

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