Is It Play or Work? (or Play + Science = Transformation)

I sometimes listen to Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith on NPR.  This Sunday’s show was an interview with Dr. Stuart Brown, a physician and director of the National Institute for Play.

First of all, I never heard of the National Institute for Play – and didn’t know that people were devoting their life to studying play. I am also wondering, what a cool place to work (or rather “play”) and how do I get a job there.

So, I did some further research on the National Instititue for Play and found that their mission is as follows:

“We are approaching this work as students of the science of play. We are gathering with other play experts and students to develop projects which will expand the clinical, scientific knowledge of Human Play as well as projects which will translate the knowledge of play into practices and training programs to deliver the benefits of play to all segments of society.”

The research from the NIFP has identified 7 patterns of play as identified below:

  • Attunement Play
  • Body Play and Movement
  • Object Play
  • Social Play
  • Imaginative and Pretend Play
  • Storytelling-Narrative Play
  • Transformative-Integrative and Creative Play

There are some interesting takeaway’s to bring to the “corporate table” from this research around creativity, innovation and ideation that is so important to adapting to a changing world.  This type of play is best summarized as “Play + Science = Transformation“. 

I encourage you to learn how you can apply this research and add more “play’ to your personal and professional life.

The Speaking of Faith podcast can be downloaded here or you can listen to it here.  The SOF website also has an interesting and short 2-minute slideshow on play occurring in nature that can be found at this link.


What Kind of Catalyze Member Are You?

Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff are analysts at Forrester who cover the social technology., media and networking space.

In a recent blog entry, they summarized their findings on social technographics.  Here is an excerpt of their report that is pertains to Catalyze. 

“At the heart of Social Technographics is consumer data that looks at how consumers approach social technologies – not just the adoption of individual technologies. We group consumers into six different categories of participation – and participation at one level may or may not overlap with participation at other levels. We use the metaphor of a ladder to show this, with the rungs at the higher end of the ladder indicating a higher level of participation.”


Since you’re reading this, you are already a Joiner and not an Inactive.  But are you Critic or Creator yet?  Do you want to be?  Growing Catalyze as a community will take all types of members – Spectators, Collectors, Critics and Creators – and you can be more than one type at the same time.

On their blog, Charlene and Josh have also posted several videos from an interesting company called CommonCraft that produces videos that simply explain various topics.  For example, this short video describes social networking in very simple terms.  Please share this with others who may be wondering why social or professional networks (like Catalyze) are important.

Protocasting – Taking Prototyping To a New Level

I ran across an interesting blog post by Robert Hoeckman, Jr. today on “protocasting” and wanted to share it with the Catalyze community. 

What is a protocast?  I am a big proponent of prototyping or simulations as words alone just do not do justice when trying to explain a new system or functionality.  However, Robert’s techniques takes prototyping to an entirely new level.  Robert’s definition of a protocast is: a combination of a prototype and a screencast.  Robert creates them by filming and narrating a simple prototype using a tool like Camtasia (for Windows) or Snapz Pro (for Mac).

Why does Robert make protocasts?  “The less time I spend on what should be simple explanations, the more time I can spend doing other important things for my clients.”

Read more about protocasting in Robert’s blog entry.  Protocasting may be something to consider on your next project.

Spend It On Beckham

In case you don’t follow soccer (if you’re in the US) or football (elsewhere in the world), the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer recently lured English soccer phenom David Beckham to the US for a reported $250 million over 5 years.

Until last night, David has been a bit of a bust on the soccer pitch as he hasn’t played much due to some nagging injuries. But Sir Beckham broke out of the doldrums last night when he scored one goal on a free kick and assisted on another goal leading the Galaxy to a 2-0 win over their DC United rival. Our family was at the game and had a great view of Beckham bending in the goal over a wall of DC defenders.

Here is a great YouTube video showing the goal from about a hundred different angles.

So, you’re asking the obvious questions – what does soccer or $250mm have to do with this blog or the Catalyze community? While a goal and an assist from Beckham has barely made a dent in the cost of bringing Beckham to the US, he has already energized ticket sales for games where he wasn’t even playing and has already helped sell 250,000 Beckham jerseys.

It got me thinking that sometimes you do need to spend money to get the best person to energize your company or take it to the next level. (Plus, writing a blog post on David Beckham can only boost the rankings and visibility of my blog — and I will be able to Google my name along with David Beckham and Catalyze and find this blog post.)

You can settle for mediocrity or you can pay to get the job done right. To further illustrate my point, I ran across a blog entry titled “10 Developers for the Price of One” that discusses software developer productivity – and it discussed that the studies in the difference in productivity between the best and worst programmers ranged from 10:1 to 28:1.

It’s not that the best programmers are spitting out more code than the others, it’s a “total cost of ownership” issue. The better programmers:

  • take ownership of a project
  • write code with less bugs
  • write maintainable code
  • do more with less code

So, if Beckham worth $50mm per year? Maybe or maybe not. But he has already generated a ton of publicity for Major League Soccer even when he wasn’t playing up to par.

Now you just have to justify to your manager that you deserve a 28x raise! (note to my manager – I would sette for a 10x raise).

[this entry was originally posted in the Catalyze Current Wisdom blog on August 16, 2007]

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

We all tend to get in ruts in our professional and personal lives, and stay in our comfort zone because it is, well, comfortable and safe.
My end of summer challenge for Catalyze members is to stop being complacent and do something about it.  It could be something big or small; it may be as easy as trying a new restaurant or coffee shop, visiting someplace you’ve never been, talking to a stranger or taking the ‘long way’ home.

As an example, I got out of my comfort zone last week when I completed a 2-mile ocean swim with my wife and 900 others.  The swim consisted of swimming out around the piers from Hermosa Beach to Manhattan Beach.  I have lived near the beach in California and Pacific Ocean for 20 years, and go in the water every summer, but rarely do I venture out in water over my head.

I am a runner, not a swimmer – and I’m a little chicken about things that can bump into you in the ocean.  However, my wife started telling people that we were going to do the swim about 6 months ago, so our “reputations” were on the line. So, I added some lap swimming to my exercise routine starting in May and worked up to swimming a mile.  We also added four ocean swims to get somewhat comfortable with the notion of swimming without lane markers, sides and a black stripe on the bottom.  While we didn’t set any records last week, we finished the race (and we weren’t last) – and it’s safe to say that the feeling was exhilarating and our complacency has been “shaken”.  The hard part about swimming is that is a little boring – as it is deprives the senses.  Imagine not talking to anyone, tasting salty water, hearing only the sound of your own breathing and arms hitting the water, and looking through foggy goggles for a little over an hour.  If you can do that, then you  could swim two miles in the ocean too.  The bigger deal is that I did something I didn’t think I could ever do and have gained confidence to face down some of my fears.

It is interesting to see how “complacency-busting” activities like this can carry over into other aspects of your life and now I know why people do things like climb mountains, do the Ironman and push themselves in feats of physical endurance.

In a related vein, I stumbled across an interesting website this week called SuperViva.  SuperViva lets you make a list of things you want to do in your personal or professional life and gives you tools to help you track your progress toward accomplishment.  If you don’t know what you want to do, you can even browse the goals and to-do’s of other people to give you ideas.  Go to or click on the ad below.  (SuperViva is FREE too).

Get a life list and live your dreams at SuperViva

So, get inspired!  Pick an idea or goal, shake off the cobwebs of complacency and let us know how it goes…