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From Workplace to Playspace: Innovating, Learning and Changing Through Dynamic Engagement

ISBN: 978-0-470-46722-0
256 pages
April 2010, Jossey-Bass
From Workplace to Playspace: Innovating, Learning and Changing Through Dynamic Engagement  (0470467223) cover image


From Workplace to Playspace is about visionary, courageous, innovative, and persistent organizations that challenge long-held preconceptions about the incompatibility of workplace and playspace. Each day organizations across industries and with wide-ranging missions are discovering that playspace is the space they can and must create every day at work if they are to think creatively, question old assumptions, respond effectively to the unexpected, and engage all to work at the top of their talent. Filled with case examples from such organizations as Learning Curve International, Google, Chicago Public Schools, Umpqua Bank, and Threadless, the author provides both the conceptual framework and the principles to guide practitioners to create playspace for innovating, learning and changing in their organizations.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables.



1. Workplace to Playspace: A New Mindset for Success.

Reclaiming play as a key dynamic for organizational success and creating space for all to develop their capacities for innovating, learning and changing.

2. Playspace Is Relational Space.

By developing relational intelligence and tapping the power of the relational space organizations are innovating, learning and changing by engaging and expanding social and relational networks.

3. Playspace Is Generative Space.

Organizations that consistently engage their generative core make space for the intrinsic motivation and passion.

4. Playspace Is Safe Space.

Innovating, learning and changing can be risky, uncomfortable and disorienting processes. Playspace is safe for fresh perspectives, new discoveries, and positive change.

5. Playspace Is Timeful Space.

Organizations and workgroups that negotiate the demands of the clock and make playspace for the possibilities available in the present moment create timeful space.

6. Playspace Is Provocative Space.

Provocative space stretches our familiar ways of thinking, being, and doing.

7. Sustaining Playspace.

Recurring themes and best practices of organizations that consistently bring playspace to life in their organizations.

Epilogue: Living the Questions.

Playspace lives in the questions and thrives on continued discovery.


The Author.



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Author Information

Pamela Meyer, Ph.D., is founder and president of Meyer Creativity Associates. She teaches at DePaul University where she is also a Faculty Fellow at both the Center to Advance Education for Adults and the Center for Creativity and Innovation at the College of Commerce and the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. Meyer speaks and consults internationally.


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Check out author Pamela Meyer on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/PlayspaceLLC#p/u

Press Release

March 17, 2010
From Workplace to Playspace: Innovating, Learning and Changing Through Dynamic Engagement

CHICAGO (March 22, 2010) – With organizations trying to do more with less and still expecting the same level of creativity and innovation, employees are feeling the strain.  Over 80 percent of employees feel overworked and under-appreciated [1] and 54 percent of today's employees are ready to jump ship, as soon as the economy improves.[2] A new book by Pamela Meyer, an instructor of business creativity and organizational change at DePaul University in Chicago, helps organizations find that missing link in improving employee engagement and commitment…especially during these difficult times.    

In "From Workplace to Playspace: Innovating, Learning and Changing Through Dynamic Engagement" (Jossey-Bass, 2010), Meyer provides the conceptual framework and the principles to help practitioners find fresh approaches to employee engagement using the power of “play,” while directly impacting the bottom line and meeting strategic goals.

This new book goes behind the scenes at world-class organizations such as Google, Learning Curve International, Chicago Public Schools, Umpqua Bank and Threadless to examine how these high pressure workplaces are being transformed into a “play” space.  These provocative case stories bring a new dimension of Meyer’s playspace model to life and are grounded in years of organizational research and qualified results.

“Each of these high-engagement organizations have shifted their mind-set from workplace, in which the product is more important than the process, to playspace, where the lively, creative process of innovating, learning and changing invites passionate commitment and enthusiastic participation,” said Meyer. “This mind-set shift to ‘play’ is the link many organizations are missing when trying to build and retain employee engagement.”

In addition to the real-life examples, the book includes easy-to-adopt principles that can be implemented in any type of organization, some of which include:

  • Making Space for the ‘‘We’’ to Emerge. Employees will collaborate with those whose skills, knowledge and talent they value. They must have the space, systems, and processes that enable them to become aware of, build relationships with, and have access to these people in the organization.
  • Look for and Respond Signs of Degeneration.  As employee engagement numbers in this economy prove, morale is at an all time low.  Look for the signs of degeneration in the workplace such as low participation in team meetings, decrease in creative ideas, increase use of paid time off / sick leave benefits or tension and defensiveness between colleagues.  Flag this behavior and simply ask for informal feedback from group leaders, facilitators and participants. A simple, ‘‘How’s it going?’’ or even a more pointed, “What’s the current level of engagement and energy?’’ can often yield valuable feedback.
  • Engage the Positive Core. More often than looking for what works, and engaging that energy and wisdom for guidance, we have been trained to focus on what does not work. Workplace leaders and employees can support shared success by focusing on what works.  For example, tap into people's best skills and allow them to take ownership of its wisdom and guide future success in this area.  Provide respectful feedback to those having a negative impact on the energy of the group and encourage them to find a new perspective.  And finally, listen!  People who feel passionately about an idea or perspective need to be heard. Such passion is valuable for the organizational system and; gone unheard, it can shift into degenerative energy.

“Pamela’s principles are for everyone in the workplace, from the top-level CEO’s to managers, team leaders or anyone willing to take on new roles and experiment with new perspectives,” said John Lee, former CEO of Learning Curve International. “We have seen a huge increase of energy within our teams that will create lasting and meaningful change within our organization.”

[1] Herman Trend Alert. “2010 Workforce/Workplace Forecast,” December 16, 2009

[2] Adecco Group North America.“Employment Trend” survey, July 2009


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