Invite light-hearted and high-spirited interaction to exercise mind, senses, imagination and body, to engender creativity, and deepen relationships. Playfulness may be evoked through structured but fun ways to engage relevant topics, or restorative breaks that allow laughter free reign, or may simply show up as humour.
Play is a purposeful enjoyable activity, not "just fun". In the context of group process, play varies from unstructured to very structured (games). It can have enormous value -- it is the way in which many people learn best --and it can produce social skill-building, creativity, exercise, and memorable experiences.
Laughter accesses a part of ourselves, deepens interaction with others and increases self-awareness. When the facilitator is having fun too it is contagious and exemplary.
Play often frees the group from inhibitions, bonds the group, levels the power dynamic (democratization), and lightens and depersonalizes what might otherwise be tense situations.
Play can entail role playing. Games are a more formalized form of play.
Cautions and Caveats:
- Trust is prerequisite
- The group needs to believe this is a good use of their time
- The activity needs to be relevant to the purpose of the group process (and also needs a debrief to articulate and reaffirm this)
- There needs to be a teachable moment and/or relationship-building outcome
- Beware of the influence of alcohol on games/play activities -- too much lack of inhibition can be a liability or personal safety issue
- Some people will be inhibited or embarrassed by play, so you need to be alert to make sure this doesn't occur
Carol MacKinnon - used skits in the middle of visioning; song to illustrate
Sue Woehrlin - in systems change course - got group to find a passage that seemed to encode something important and then enact it
Carol - used innovation diffusion game - Salvation Army exercise - amoeba roles (innovator, change agent, early adopted, noisy majority positive and negative) - "does the amoeba move or split in two" (does the change get adopted) - roles are assigned randomly - people "move" as their view changes
Carol - used Keirsey temperament sorter - groups have to act out of their own type
Second Life, Sim Life (games and simulations)
Future search (Marv Weisbord) - role playing to embody the vision of the future
Book "Serious Play" -- Michael Schrage
Alan At Kisson - innovation diffusion game
"Real learning tends to take place when people are brave enough to experiment, relax and try something new." -- from Jamie at selfmadescholar.com
"Play is the only way the highest intelligence of human kind can unfold" Joseph Chilton Pearce