More on Play at Work: Aaron Dignan at PSFK

The videos of the great presentations from April’s PSFK Conference New York have begun to appear on the site. Following on yesterday’s post about Ross Smith and work as play, you should definitely see Aaron Dignan’s presentation “Why the Future of Work Is Play,” where he promises that play is going to “infect” our lives and culture.

There’s a lot of great stuff here. One of the most striking points is that to keep up your interest in an activity you have to have the right balance between your skills and the challenge that you face. Too easy and you get bored, too hard and you get discouraged — but if the next step is always just out of reach but you can learn it and advance, you will get excited and keep going, and going, and going. And yes, losing your sense of time is part of the process.

Dignan notes that for an activity to be made into a game, three things have to be true. The player has to be able to learn the activity; the player has to be measured, objectively or against other players or both; and feedback has to be delivered promptly. Meaning right away, not months down the road at performance review time. So if you can build in the chance to learn skills and the feedback loop, you can turn a process goal into a treasure hunt, and everyone involved gets a chance to be the hero.

I see that a lot in the innovators that we get to work with here. They’re always pushing that next idea, always finding out more and building a new challenge. They’ve found the way to play their way to real, serious work.