The Play Ethic: lessons from play in an adverse economic climate

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The slides from my presentation at The Economist's 'Opportunity in Adversity' Conference, London, June 2, 2009
See http://www.theplayethic.com for more details.

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The Play Ethic: lessons from play in an adverse economic climate

  1. 1. 2 JUNE 2009 LONDON WWW.THEPLAYETHIC.COM
  2. 2. WHO AM I? I AM A PLAYER 1 MILLION RECORDS SOLD (1987-2009) PLAYED WITH MADONNA, U2, JAMES BROWN, VAN MORRISON, RAY CHARLES, AL GREEN RELAUNCHED SUCCESSFULLY LAST YEAR @ WWW.HUEANDCRY.CO.UK A FOUNDING AUTHOR OF THE PLAY EDITOR OF ETHIC (MACMILLAN SUNDAY 2004) - BOOK, BLOG, HERALD CONSULTANCY NEWSPAPER, WWW.THEPLAYETHIC.COM 1999 SO I’M INTO PLAY…
  3. 3. WHERE IS PLAY? EVERYWHERE! iPODS, CAMPHONES, NETBOOKS… GAMES BIGGER THAN MOVIES… GAMBLING ON AND OFFLINE… RISE IN LIVE PERFORMANCE & MARX TODAY SPORTS ATTENDANCE WOULD BE WRITING ‘DAS CARNIVALS, FESTIVALS, KARNEVAL’… THEMED CITY BRANDING… NEVER MIND WEB CULTURE…
  4. 4. WHY DO WE PLAY? PLAY IS LIKE SEX …IT’S FUN THAT FULFILLS AN EVOLUTIONARY TASK SEX IS FUN THAT PRODUCES BABIES PLAY IS FUN THAT PRODUCES A SENSE OF LIVELY OPTIMISM, HELPING US TO TRIUMPH OVER LIFE’S INEVITABLE CHALLENGES BRIAN-SUTTON SMITH, ‘PLAY THEORY’, AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PLAY, SUMMER 2008
  5. 5. WHAT IS PLAY? PLAY IS ‘ADAPTIVE POTENTIATION’ WE MIMIC OR MOCK SURVIVAL THRU OUR VARIETIES OF PLAY - TOYS, TOOLS, GAMES, PRACTICES B4 ‘INNOVATION’ & ‘CREATIVITY’ … THERE’S PLAY BRIAN-SUTTON SMITH, THE AMBIGUITY OF PLAY, (HARVARD 1997)
  6. 6. WHAT USE IS PLAY TO MANAGEMENT? DO YOU VALUE….. OPTIMISM AND ENERGY? WILLINGNESS TO EXPERIMENT & TRY OUT NEW ROLES? REAL COMMITMENT TO A ETHOS? PLAY CAN BRING THIS…. …BUT THE PLAYFUL ORGANISATION IS RARE…
  7. 7. WHY IS THE PLAYFUL ORGANISATION RARE? BECAUSE PLAYFUL SELF-ORGANISATION IS EVERYWHERE… ….IT’S CALLED THE INTERNET
  8. 8. THE INTERNET IS A “GROUND OF PLAY” SAVANNAH PLAYPARK INTERNET ALL THREE: …HAVE LOOSE BUT ROBUST GOVERNANCE …ENSURE A SURPLUS OF TIME, SPACE, STUFF …TREAT FAILURE, RISK, MESS AS DEVELOPMENTAL NECESSITIES
  9. 9. WHAT ARISES FROM THE NET’S “GROUND OF PLAY?” FOR BUSINESS, IT’S NOT INSIGNIFICANT… A NEW, COLLABORATIVE SHARING ECONOMY & A GENERATION OF PLAYERS (NET + GAMES WORKER) BIG ORGANISATIONS & THE ‘PLAYGROUND’… CLOSE THEM DOWN? OR BUILD YOUR OWN?
  10. 10. ’S ‘TWENTY PERCENT RULE’ THEIR ‘GROUND OF PLAY’ WITHIN THE ORG LOOSE BUT ROBUST GOOGLE’S RULES BENEFIT: CONTINUOUS, SURPLUS OF PASSIONATE TIME, SPACE, INNOVATION & STUFF PRODUCT IMPROVEMENT RISK & MESS IS HEALTHY THAT’S OK FOR GOOGLE…BUT ANYONE ELSE?
  11. 11. A ‘PLAY ETHIC’ NOT SUITABLE FOR ALL BUSINESSES AND ORGANISATIONS… GOOD FOR START-UPS (NOT JUST HI-TECH) GOOD FOR PUBLIC SECTOR (STRONG G-O-P) GOOD FOR VERY LARGE, STABLE CORPS(NUFF SLACK TO CREATE SKUNK-WORKS) BUT… NOT GOOD FOR COMPANIES IN TIGHT MARKETS (TOO PANICKED TO VALUE G-O-P) NOT GOOD FOR LOW-SKILLED INDUSTRIES (PLAYERS NEED AUTONOMY, NOT ORDERS)
  12. 12. PERHAPS IT’S ONLY A NEW POLITICAL ECONOMY WHICH COULD ENABLE THAT GROUND OF PLAY FOR ALL SECTORS… COULD THE 35-HOUR WEEK BRING THE GOOGLE “TWENTY PERCENT” TO EVERY ORG? COULD COMPANY LAW SUPPORT TRUSTS, COOPERATIVES, MUTUALS - NEW FIRMS FOR THE SHARING ECONOMY OF THE NET? … IN SHORT, THE BIG RULES OF THE …BUT IN THIS CAPITALIST GAME ARE UP DIRECTION?? FOR BEING CHANGED…
  13. 13. …”YOU NEVER WANT A SERIOUS CRISIS TO GO TO WASTE…” RAHM EMMANUEL, NOV 2008, WSJ WWW.THEPLAYETHIC.COM LISTEN TO THE E-mail: playethical@gmail.com BIGGEST Twitter: @theplayethic PLAYERS

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