Ignite possibilities

Funny Business Leads to Better Ideas

It was a dream project.  A client asked us to immerse a team in silliness to help them better understand their target consumer, teenaged boys and twenty-something men.  How much fun is that?

Our immersion consisted of interactive presentations on the benefits of play and the styles of silliness, an improv workshop designed to help the team experience silliness firsthand and a knock-down, drag out, finger-shooter war.

Along the way, we discovered that the sillier we got, the more we began to feel like the consumer. Eventually, our play led to some great new product ideas.

The benefits of getting silly can extend to any brand or business challenge.  Here are some ways to tap into your team’s silly side:

Think like a kid.  Kids are naturally silly and much of their emotional pleasure comes from funny and scary things.  They love mystery and surprise.  Kids naturally watch and observe without analysis (while adults look and analyze).  Kids don’t get silly as a means to an end, getting silly is the end.  Set a light and silly tone at your next meeting by having each team member share a kid-like observation.  For example, “my son tells the same joke over and over and every time he thinks it’s more and more hilarious.  Kids get such a kick out of repetition.”

Set a playful mindset.  How often do you get to play at work?  Play is as important for adults as it is for kids.  A recent Scientific American Mind article entitled “The Serious Need for Play” describes the psychological and physiological benefits of play.  The article states, “Play has to be reframed and seen not as an opposite to work but rather a complement.  Curiosity, imagination and creativity are like muscles.  If you don’t use them, you lose them.”  Take a 10 minute playbreak every day at work … we’ll leave it to you to figure out how to play!

Embrace reality.  The actual can be more interesting than the imagined.  It’s no surprise that TV reality shows have grabbed our nation’s attention because the silly, surprising and crazy antics are real and fascinating.  At your next meeting, loosen up the team by having each person share a silly personal experience.

Acknowledge that it’s natural.  Being silly is a natural part of being human.  Letting our inner silliness out can take courage.  Once trust is built within a group, silliness can flourish.  During our silliness immersion, we placed styrofoam finger-shooter toys throughout the room.  For hours they sat untouched.  Then someone had the courage to spontaneously launch one across the room.  Moments later, everyone joined the finger-shooter party.  Silliness is contagious.

Use humor.  Silliness and humor go hand-in-hand.  The top humor techniques:  surprise, exaggeration, juxtaposition and reversal.  To try one of these techniques, decorate your meeting room walls with photos like our pet Thanksgiving picture on the right.

Get serious results.  Use the insights your team uncovers while being silly to generate better ideas.  Whether it’s a better understanding of your consumer target, or simply a way to boost your team’s energy, funny business can result in serious results.


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