Remember as a child how serious we were when pretending to be a doctor, a singer, a shop keeper or a teacher... knowing how to play is essential in developing our cognitive abilities. What we read and see around us, we imitate in order to better learn and understand the world. We are genetically built to play. It improves brain connections. 

In the living room, I was a graceful ballet dancer, outside, during winter time, I played cowboy games with my neighbors in igloos! I have so many good memories from my childhood since I had a lot of freedom and time to play! We were all so imaginative. I also remembered the evenings with my family playing Monopoly... my old taunt was giving me money under the table to help me win!

Playing is the best way to imagine the feeling of the others and to get insights that we wouldn't otherwise. It's the perfect immersive and interactive experiment for good development. We seem sometimes to forget that play has rules, and all the players know they have to follow them to stay in the game. Playing is more serious, intellectually and socially, than we think.

As we grow older, appearances take on much more importance. As adults, we are afraid to look stupid if we're playing, but it's still the best way to innovate and generate a lot of new ideas.

Tim Brown, CEO of the innovative design firm IDEO, recommends playfulness for the ideas generative mode (Diversion phase) and to come back to seriousness to define solutions (Conversion Phase). Listen to him at the 2008 Serious Play conference where he talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play. 

Having taken over from founder David E. Kelley, Tim Brown carries forward the firm's mission of fusing design, business and social studies to come up with deeply researched, deeply understood designs and ideas -- they were the first to call it "design thinking."


We need trust to play and to be creative.


- Explorations (finding as many ideas as possible);
- Building (thinking with the hands);
- Role play (acting out).

To go further:

Stuart Brown's research shows play is not just joyful and energizing — it's deeply involved with human development and intelligence. Through the National Institute for Play, he's working to better understand its significance.

The National Institute for Play unlocks the human potential through play in all stages of life, using science to discover all that play has to teach us about transforming our world.

To keep playing...