I admit it: I play with toys at work. Last week, it was Zoobs. I tend to like gear or construction toys like Zoobs as they can be used to think about how things fit together and how they move. Playing with these and other toys helps me get out of the Flatland that dominates my walls, computer and desk. I also find that it helps me tap into analogies and metaphors that can be used to better understand and describe what I am feeling, thinking and doing.
Last week, I was searching for a way to share how our tools and design approach addresses the needs of workers and also connecting these changes to the challenges facing our society and world. When I am faced with serious challenges like how to address the “never enough” problem (which is rooted in the fear of dying and aging), I lean on our tools. In this case, it meant building a model of what i’m thinking with some of our toys.
Creating these physical models helped me move a step closer to understanding our work at a time when I have been feeling raw and anxious. Since using the Zoobs to model my thinking last week, I am feeling much less stress.
Our work is a serious game. We want to improve how people work. But it is not just about work—it is about tapping into what we are each uniquely good at and enjoy, while also putting a container around work so that we, and our partners and clients, can truly thrive at work, at home, and in our communities. It is about meeting the actual needs of ourselves, our society and world; needs that in many ways seem to be hidden and obscured and therefore often unmet.
Playing with Zoobs enabled me to better understand the relationship of Meaningful Action Design to the “never enough” problem in the context of the world of work. It helped illuminate that there is a particular order to our process which enables what we co-design with our clients and partners to fit the complex and ever-shifting territory we are working in. In particular, it helped me work out why we lead with our tools. They are useful immediately, but also a doorway, threshold or a welcome mat to new ways of working we are creating with our partners and clients.
It also gave me a chance to get on the floor and play with toys which I loved doing as a child and have returned to doing with my own children.