Playground at work

The science shows that employees perform best when they are in roles that allow them to be curious and to experiment. The employer’s job is to provide a sandbox where employees feel safe to play. This is what Google did when it allowed its employees to spend 20% of their time working on whatever they wanted.

A playground at work allows employees to learn and develop their skills in a safe way. If they try something and it doesn’t work, it’s OK. As they try and fail and try again, their skills improve, all to the benefit of the organization.

The best-selling video games know a thing or two about play and skills. The first challenges the present to players can be met with almost no skills at all. The next challenge is barely more difficult. Players acquire skills rapidly while having fun. If they make a mistake, they can start over again and again. Consequently, players spend countless hours honing their skills.

Imagine a workforce that comes to work for play. Each employee has a job designed for their current skill level. Experiments are conducted to generate learning and growth. As their skills increase, their job is redesigned and their pay is adjusted. They keep playing, they keep learning, they increase their skills, all in a virtuous cycle.

There is a roadmap to this future workforce. It’s called the science of total motivation (ToMo). You can learn about it in the book titled Primed to Perform.

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