This talk was presented at the 2008 Serious Play conference and is from the site. Designer Tim Brown talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play — with many examples you can try at home (and one that maybe you shouldn’t).

Curious about design thinking? Sign up for an IDEO U design thinking course or check out this free toolkit: Design Thinking for Educators. (Ted web site)

Who is he:

Tim Brown is the CEO of innovation and design firm IDEO, taking an approach to design that digs deeper than the surface. Having taken over from founder David E. Kelley, Tim Brown carries forward the firm’s mission of fusing design, business and social studies to come up with deeply researched, deeply understood designs and ideas — they call it “design thinking.” (op. cite.)

Why you should watch:

IDEO is the kind of firm that companies turn to when they want a top-down rethink of a business or product — from fast food conglomerates to high-tech startups, hospitals to universities.

IDEO has designed and prototyped everything from a life-saving portable defibrillator to the defining details at the groundbreaking Prada shop in Manhattan to corporate processes. And check out the Global Chain Reaction for a sample of how seriously this firm takes play. (Op.cite.)


  1. We fear the judgement of our peers, which causes us to become _____ in our thinking? Discuss.
  2. Before we take risks we need some kind of security. Explains what he means by this.
  3. Playfulness helps us to get better creative solutions, do our jobs better, and help us feel better when we do them. Give an example from your own experience.
  4. When we first encounter any new material, we ask “what can we do with it”. His term for this is exploratory play. Provide an example from a child an adult.
  5. A barrier to adult creativity is self-editing. Explain.
  6. He discusses “informal prototyping” and available materials to allow for exploration and design. Why do offices and schools remove most adaptive materials.

Making connections:






Tales of Creativity and Play with Tim Brown


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