the-european-logoPlaying with ideas

Interview by The European

Yesim Kunter is a futurist; she explores the unknown, and finds new meanings, she creates new experiences and translates that knowledge into concrete ideas. Ms Kunter acknowledges that being a futurist is to embrace the mind of a child. That the most important thing is first to have fun playing with the ideas, be curious, open minded, but also realistic, to explore new meanings and communicate them for the needs of others.

As well as being a futurist Ms Kunter also wanted to combine the power of Play that she’d learnt over the years into its process. She founded her own independent consultancy, Play to Innovate, to focus on new meanings that we can explore. We caught up with Ms Kunter to find out more about her intriguing world.

Q: What is Play?
Yesim Kunter: Play is the outcome of manifestations of connections with ourselves, others and/ or our surroundings to achieve deeper meanings.

When we talk about Play, most of the time it is about child’s play. Although child’s play is the beginning of all forms of play, we somehow detach ourselves from this definition as we grow older. Play takes many forms; Play sets the foundation of our skills, behaviours, and understanding of our environment. Play brings out the hidden potential of people and creates deeper connections with their surroundings.

It sets a safe place and time for observation, exploration and experimentation and creates an opportunity for risk taking.

Q: Where is the world going in the context of Play experiences?
YK: The 21st century requires people with the skills of adaptation, flexibility, and the entrepreneur mindset for building the future. Right now we are raising a generation with the expectation that their creative minds will be able to innovate and define tomorrow’s world. With this in mind, most of us are already following trends, such as personalisation, customisation, makers culture, hackers culture and creators. What does that mean in regards to Play experiences? By the definition of Play, while we create we form new connections. In the process we forget time and space and just focus on the creation itself. It is the playful mind, which can see the subject in multiple perspectives. Also when we analyse younger generations, we can see that being playful is more acceptable than previous ones. Technology adaptation has also enabled people to break the boundaries, it has created new communication styles merged from formality to causality and in return playfulness has became a more acceptable in our lifestyle. One of the best examples for this would be the Apps that promote healthy behaviours, such as Nike ID Fuel Band, users can experiment and follow their development by engaging with the product / services and adopting to their needs. This behaviour also builds a community, where users can share their experiences and support each other.

Another impact will soon arrive with the 3D printers. They will add a new dimension to our lifestyles. The reason why we are becoming more playful is not limited to technology but also to the generations. Even in parts of the world with many problems like poverty and ignorance, the playful mind is what motivates and keeps them going. Out of the darkness new cultures flourish because we play and we have been seeing this process unfolding over and over again for a millennium. As cultural theorist Johan Huizinga says: “… play and culture are actually interwoven with one another … pure play is one of the main bases of civilisation.”

Q: How does Play help businesses gain a competitive advantage and get ahead in the market place?
YK: Most of the time we hear organisations saying that they’re stuck in their old habits and holistic decision-making or aren’t able to think outside the box. They become too comfortable with their old processing systems, their habits and change becomes extremely difficult. Play and playful mind set gives us the permission of time and space to try to change the pattern and move out of the comfort zones.

I have observed many times, how the true inner self of people comes out in Play workshops. If you observe and analyse the behaviour of people no matter what the play activity and the outcome is, the actual behaviour of their work relation comes out. It can be observed how people behave, communicate, negotiate, engage or brainstorm with each other. In addition, how they think, tinkle, create when they are away from their normal daily tasks, they can look at the issues with a brand new perspective, which brings better results and solutions.

We need more and more people in our business who are divergent thinkers, collaborators, negotiators, those who can empathise or create solutions. These people also need to be motivated. Playful minds flourish in environments and cultures where Play is not just seen as the child’s work but accepted as an important element of a creative mind.

There are many reasons why Play can gain businesses competitive advantages. First, to be able to understand the dynamics of people and the systems within the organisations. Second, to be able to connect the related and unrelated information and create new white space opportunities. If we want our employees to be able to use some of the methodologies for innovation, such as metaphoric thinking, design thinking or empathy we need to understand that all of these subjects are the underlying fundamental traits of Play.

Q: Are Play and innovation linked?
YK: Innovation cannot simply happen without a playful mind. In order for innovation to happen, we need to be able to filter through a vast amount of information and connect it in a way that gives new perspectives and in return gives new meaning within its context. The most important innovative people are those who have playful minds, such as Einstein, Steve Jobs or Richard Branson; minds that still possess curiosity, child-like mind and enthusiasm that never diminishes. These are the traits that bring out the most important creations. A playful mind is like fireflies. It is always in action, motivated, excited; juggles with the ideas, sees from multiple perspectives, it is open to take risks and masters them.

In this kind of mind-set we are motivated, we are most open to take any kind of information and use it, make something out of it. As it is, information alone is like flour, it is the playful mind that will have the power to make something out of it.

Q: Can Play help improve the health sector?
YK: Play is like a form of antibiotic. It can help the health sector improve in many levels, as Play is the motivation of our minds. First, it is engaging, it is a connector not just to the society or the institutions but also to ourselves. Then it empowers us, we become the leader of our own life. This gives the most important trait: the curiosity.

Getting more connected to the information and the mechanics of the play will lead the patient to become the empowered person.

Play also leads us to different emotions, behaviours and can support in the long term for changing our habits. If Play can be applied more into the health sector, it will make the engagement easier and, in return, communication will get better and the needs of its people will be understood.

Q: How can a health app be helpful to patients?
YK: Patients need reassurance; they need feedback and to be reminded daily. In doing so they also need to be engaged and empowered for their own health. Apps, in this regard, are the easiest, quickest and most reliable tools. If they are designed in a way that understands and answers the solutions for their user and leverages the quality of their experiences, there is no doubt that a health App will be helpful for patients.

About Yesim Kunter
Yesim Kunter is an independent consultant at yesimkunter lmt.

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