A couple of days ago, due to bad weather, I got stuck at the airport in Hamburg for a couple of hours. In the lounge, I got into a dialogue with an executive from HP. As usual, we briefly exchanged our job background and I shared our sustainable high performance approach (Sink, Float, or Swim) with him. He immediately understood the relevance of our work and to my surprise he linked the importance of fun to our recovery pillar. When our flights got cancelled we didn't have much to laugh about, but it did allow my fellow lounger the opportunity to tell me a story about a high performing executive. This story really resonated with me and made me smile so I wanted to share with all of you.
The person he was talking about was Ji Lee, the creative director of Google's Creative Lab. Lee has developed and executed plans to promote products like Google Maps, the Chrome Web Browser, and Goollery. Lee is also known for a lot of creative guerilla art which he does outside of his day job. Probably one of the most known creations is called Bubble Project where he placed blank thought-bubble stickers on advertisements on the streets of Manhattan (it has turned now into a global project). The bubbles were left blank, inviting people who passed by to fill in a funny quote. Lee has a reputation for being an idea generator who executes ideas in remarkable ways. His secret sauce for staying committed with projects is that he incorporates elements of fun in each project. His main tool for keeping his team engaged and motivated is "Games" such as an ongoing exchange of links - a challenge to find the most clever and surprising links about a certain topic (and the topics change each week). Lee sees the fun in this Games as a short term reward. He discovered that it helps his team to stay engaged and to follow a project through, even when they face challenges and might lose momentum. Lee's approach clearly underlines the great quote of Brian Sutton-Smith: “The opposite of play is not work. It's depression.”
At Tignum we always try to incorporate play into our work. For instance after every project we deliver, we celebrate with a nice dinner where we purposefully don't follow all of our own nutritional strategies (I hope our Director of Nutrition Patti doesn't read that part). However, after listening to Ji Lee's story I feel we still have quite some room for improvement - especially with a team that is spread all over the globe and works in different time zones. I am curious how you integrate fun into your work days and in your team collaboration and I look forward to hearing your ideas.
By Jogi Rippel
CEO // Founder