Book review: Corporate Kindergarten

What is the value of play in the corporate world, and how could we go about introducing more of it? These are the main questions that Jesper Bove-Nielsen examines in his book Corporate Kindergarten.

This book falls somewhere between manifest, business book and academic book. It has the depth and reach of a good business book, but it clearly has a message, namely that playing is a good thing, and has tremendous value to offer the business world. The book is in danish, so non-danes will have to wait for a translation.

The book defines two kinds of playing, for which we have different words in danish: “Leg” and “spil”. Theres playing for the sake of playing and theres the more structured playing that occurs eg. when you’re playing a game with rules. Both have their place and their uses.

Throughout, the book is full of actual case stories and real life stories of playing, and it makes a very convincing case for giving room to play. Not that I need convincing :o) The argument goes that playing stimulates creativity and innovation, it enhances learning and it promotes cooperation and teamwork. The book is highly readable and entertaining. It is also well structured and informative.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in examining the value and practice of playing in a business setting.

To me, the link between playing and happiness at work is immediately obvious. Playing makes you happy, but you also need to be happy to play. To take a game seriously, requires a level of attention and a willingness to let go that is much easier to achieve if you’re happy with yourself and your surroundings. Conversely, playing makes you happy. It allows you to use parts of your self which might otherwise lie dormant, and to interact with your fellow players in an informal, fun and spontaneous way. So stop reading, and go play!

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