The running theme of the 21st century has been innovation and creativity. It’s no surprise that at the same time our work environments are taking on more playful characteristics. We’ve seen juggernaut corporations like Google fully implement elements of play into their office interiors. Where once people walked down the stairs, they now slide to their next appointment. Where once office walls were the sacred space of heralded managers, we now see glass walls offer transparency and entire systems of management reshaped or dissolved thru holacracy.
It’s not just spaces that have taken on a different child-like form. We see more playfulness in the language we use, in the graphic design and visual assets we create. We’re even seeing it in the marketing strategies of fast food giants like Taco Bell, with their Breakfast Defector campaign. Everything is geared towards playfulness. Now, we’re seeing one more element of childlike play weaved into our professional and personal lives – and that’s how we de-stress.
Amidst all the changes in our workplace, the one thing that remains constant if not increased is the level of stress we face. Our environment and our approach to business may have changed, but we’re still faced with an increased demand to perform proactively in our day to day work life. That brings a high level of stress for which we’re turning to our inner child.
Children have the right idea about how to spend life. Their days are filled with play and exploration. We’ve adapted some of that in our business innovation models. Now, innovators are finding ways to recapture more of some of that lost childhood by turning to coloring books as a way to de-stress.
The trend was triggered by Johanna Basford, a Scottish illustrator whose Secret Garden-inspired coloring book is dominating the Amazon hit list. To date, she’s already sold 1.4 million copies worldwide – and she’s not the only one. Following Johanna are a flurry of other artist with deeply detailed coloring books that evoke imagination and mindfulness. They offer us a chance to escape, while others use it as an opportunity to switch off the conscious mind and let the subconscious sort through complex problems and challenges.
Mindfulness, imagination, and problem solving are all elements of the innovative mind – the startup entrepreneur, the freelancer, the rogue thinker. We need these skills – in fact, the modern market place demands and rewards people with these characteristics.
For us, it’s just a way to unplug. Flocking to simpler pleasures as a way to cope and make sense of an ever changing world is a relatively new social movement. Beyond coloring books, books geared toward adults are taking on simpler forms as well. Take for example Seth Godin’s V is for Vulnerable, a book about leadership that is discreetly packaged as if for a child.
The shift toward childhood pleasures and simple messages is a way for us to remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated to work. Books don’t need to be complex to leave a lasting impression. Business models, products and services, also don’t need to be complicated. We don’t need to be complicated. And that’s the business lesson learned here: be playful and uncomplicated.
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