“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw (Irish playwright)
Many people think that playing is a waste of time, something that detracts attention from work. But scientific research has increasingly shown the benefits of play—decrease in stress, absenteeism, and employee turnover coupled with improvements in productivity. When done right, all of us can win by playing.
Guided by such a mindset, Paperspace Asia brought together its country teams last October 5, 2019 for Paperspace Knowledge Series 2019: Serious Play (Innovation). A total of 15 participants from Paperspace Singapore, Philippines, and Thailand flew in and came together for a day of team building and ideation at the Paperwork co-creation space in Singapore’s National Design Centre.
A Method for the Playful(ness)
True to its penchant for breaking conventional boundaries, Paperspace Asia partnered with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitators Angela Koch (Invitro Innovation) and Seri Tasripin (Affinity Group) for a truly hands-on workshop. The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology was designed by the Denmark-based LEGO® Group more than 2 decades ago to actualize organizations’ potential for idea generation and creativity.
“The goal is to build the story of us,” said Narita Cheah, Paperspace Asia co-founder, about the event. “We wanted to create a stronger team with a vision of what defines the ‘best in us’ and understand behaviors that inhibit or propel us towards our team vision,” she added.
Under the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® framework, participants respond to a set of challenge questions by building LEGO® models. They are encouraged to share the stories behind constructing these models in a safe space that is both playful and collaborative, where there are not right or wrong answers. It is through telling of such engaging narratives that a company truly connects with one another and generates meaningful conversations.
Knowing Your Powers
The workshop kicked off with a tower-building activity. Using all LEGO® bricks provided to them, participants expressed their unique and varied personalities in mixing and matching designs. Some prioritized height, others went with disaster mitigation, while a few threw in animal and palm-tree figures for good measure. It was an eye-opening experience to understand each others’ thought processes, revealing personal beliefs, risk-appetites and working differences of being together in a team.
With the “Superpower” theme, country teams then listed their respective strengths, setting the stage for a wider collective discussion. It was a great opportunity to learn more about each country, appreciating what each brings to the Paperspace Asia table. Charting paths forward, the company saw its 3 key strengths coming together to drive growth: improving local interior design standards, heightened creativity, and consistency in brand strategy.
The next question then became “how will you support each other?” A fairly straightforward question which in turn brought out a shared sense of loyalty to the ideas behind Paperspace Asia, solidifying mutual affirmation between the teams. No matter what their country of origin was, all were aligned on having the same commitment to design excellence, functionality, and people-orientedness.
Having rediscovered their similarities, the teams committed to concrete action steps that will support each others’ growth. Committing to their distinctive strengths across design conceptualization, business development & strategy and technical support, each country affirmed their roles and contribution to the company.
Bringing the A-Game
The day might have been one of play, but it drove home the point that serious work requires thoughtful engagement and teamwork by all employees. By introducing play into work, the notion of working hard and having fun together as a team comes alive, a first step towards unlocking the power of collaboration.
“We all must wear one color, speak one language,” said Cheah. “It doesn’t matter who we’re talking to—client, suppliers, or contractors—they see us as Paperspace. We bring our A-game into work and play, this is what we need to spark off innovation.”