Get Back in the Sandbox: Teaching CEOs how to Play

Other form of publication

Title: Get Back in the Sandbox: Teaching CEOs how to Play
Year: 2012
Authors: Kets de Vries, M. F.

This article discusses the role of play in human creativity. Play has always played an essential part in the evolution of Homo sapiens. Play helps children to develop mentally, physically and socially. Play, artistic expression, creativity, and evolutionary human development have been closely allied. Play has been the foundation of language, myths, rituals, behavior, and meaning. However, play is usually seen as a feature of childhood. How important is play for adults? Has our playfulness been dissipated by cultural indoctrination?

In this article, I argue that the proclivity to play remains an essential part of our make-up throughout our life and that we should make greater efforts to retain play as a mode of learning and the source of creative production. In this context, I explore the role of play at work and the association between play and "flow" - our periods of peak productivity. I propose an acronym - MMMM - to describe the essence of play, the four Ms standing for Me-time, Make-belief, Mastery, and Meaning.

I discuss the importance of transitional objects and transitional space in the context of play and meaning. Our earliest meaning-making activities have their origins in the early developmental trajectory formed by the interaction of mothers (or other caretakers) and infants. In this interface, through play, an intermediate area (third domain of functioning) is created where primary creativity (illusion) exists and can develop. Finally, I take the example of an adult educational leadership program that uses organizational play therapy as a means of individual reinvention.

Keywords: Play; flow; creativity; transitional object; transitional space; organizational play therapy; educational play.
Language: English

Type of Material: INSEAD Working Paper 2012/125/EFE

Submitted by:
Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries
Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development

Corresponding author: Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

Literature Download:

By downloading the file you agree to comply with the Terms of Use / Guidelines of the ISPSO Library and the copyright/authority information for this Literature (above).

If there is no filename in a link below then a download has not been provided.
Members-only Downloads are via the members-only zone of the website.

External website Download

Local Download

No files attached to this page.

Members-only Download Back in the Sandbox_Teaching CEOs how to Play.pdf

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License