PSSSHHHH Big Data. Hello Big Play!

April 05, 2015 / AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

PSSSHHHH Big Data. Hello Big Play!

April 05, 2015

Akshay Sateesh Founder, Ziksana Consulting

Akshay Sateesh is the founder and playful learning enthusiast for Ziksana consulting. Ziksana Consulting is a leadership development firm dedicated to combining experiential learning with the science of play. Akshay has facilitated programs in leadership development, innovation, and team dynamics for adults and children in the U.S., Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, India and South Africa. His programs include a wide variety of industries such as health care, hi-tech organizations, hospital systems, consulting firms, universities and non-profit organizations.

 

Companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix are all using Big Data to monitor, target and measure their customers in ways that have never before been possible. In fact, Gartner, an information technology research firm, predicts that by this year enterprises using Big Data will outperform their competitors by 20%.

Simply stated, Big Data is extremely large sets of data that can be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.

A Spoonful of Big Data Is Meant To Make Life Easier

The promise behind Big Data is to help companies better understand aspects of business as well as improve decision-making, overall performance and execution. According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, “Customers, employees and citizens will become engaged principally through digital means. With operational processes quickly becoming digitalized, traditional analog and manual processes will be automated, including both physical and human elements. Many, if not most, decisions will be algorithmic, based on automated judgment.”

With all the benefits that Big Data brings to organizations, customers, and products and services, are companies superfluously relying on it to make strategic and tactical decisions? Are companies becoming so dependent on Big Data that they’re abandoning their abilities to innovate and make disruptive decisions that are considered against the grain?

Disruptive Innovations Are Counter To Big Data

In the past, major market shifts have come from products and services that veer consumers away from existing trends. Let’s take the Sony Walkman for example. As the story goes, a Sony co-founder had the idea to listen to music while he was traveling for business. There was no Big Data to support the Walkman’s development. It was simply an idea that was executed based on small data and a calculated risk that resulted in a trend that transformed the music industry. Sony predicted it “would only sell about 5,000 units a month, but instead, sold upwards of 50,000 units in the first two months.”  The Walkman changed the landscape of music listening.

Consider the iconic Post-it Note. It came about by accident. Instead of creating a super-strong adhesive for use in the aerospace industry, the inventor accidentally created a weaker adhesive. Although some saw no real use for the product, others played around with it—taking time to explore possibilities around what it could be, resulting in an office supply most of us can’t live without.

Game changers like the Walkman or the Post-it Note would not have been successful if leaders had used Big Data to make the decision to develop them.  Instead, they came to be through innovative and creative decisions, by simply playing around with an idea.

 

PSSSHHHH Big Data. Hello Big Play!

Big Play is the ability to use creative and playful thinking to generate small collisions of disparate and seemingly disconnected concepts. Outcomes of Big Play are products, services and decisions that run tangential and often counter to any trends that currently exist. By adopting the concept of Big Play, organizations can break old patterns to enable new ways of thinking, feeling and being. By simply embracing the present and allowing playful connections to be made, we are able to see a world of what could be rather than a world of what currently is. Big Play’s focus is the process, rather than the outcome it generates.

Big Play + Small Data = Gutsy Leadership

Combining Big Play with ideas can help exploration and connection with benefactors. Disruptive inventions, just like the Sony Walkman and 3M’s Post-It Note, came from Big Play and small data, not Big Data and no play. Now more than ever, companies must remember to include Big Play in their work and lives to truly innovate processes, products and services.

Here are few uncommon tips for how to infuse Big Play into projects:

  • Creative Play: Choose an idea that is the opposite of what is trending or what Big Data is telling you to do. Develop this idea by using the Applied Improvisation concept of ‘Yes And’ to explore its possibilities.
  • Imaginative Play: Excite your playful senses by taking a walk—let your mind wander, and daydream by staring into the clouds during lunch.
  • Social Play: Escape from technology and data. Leave your phone and computer behind for at least two hours and connect with someone in a walking meeting or have coffee and bring pen and paper to take notes.
  • Object Play: After one hour of sitting at your computer, purposefully stand up and throw a ball against a wall, or through a mini-basket for ten minutes. In the midst of solving a problem, hold an object to physicalize part of your innovation to help enable alternative thinking.
  • When you’re deep into solving a technical challenge, answer this question: What new experience am I enabling for people with my offering?

 

Akshay Sateesh Founder, Ziksana Consulting

Akshay Sateesh is the founder and playful learning enthusiast for Ziksana consulting. Ziksana Consulting is a leadership development firm dedicated to combining experiential learning with the science of play. Akshay has facilitated programs in leadership development, innovation, and team dynamics for adults and children in the U.S., Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, India and South Africa. His programs include a wide variety of industries such as health care, hi-tech organizations, hospital systems, consulting firms, universities and non-profit organizations.

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