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Why HA + HA = AHA! How Humor & Play Drives Innovation

Many of us fall into the same trap when we go hunting for brilliant new ideas. We roll up our sleeves and say, “It’s time to get to work.” A look at the creative process, however, suggests that perhaps the opposite is in order, that instead we bigstock-Female-Hands-Balancing-Work-An-47462284should roll up our sleeves and say, “It’s time to go play awhile.”

There is an exceptionally strong link between creativity and humor. Mathematically, the humor as a catalyst for creative thinking looks something like this: Ha + Ha + Ha = AHA!

The relationship between creativity and humor is obvious to anyone who has worked in a truly innovative workplace. In fact, a survey by 3M as reported in Training Magazine, found that two-thirds of respondents listed play or humor as their favourite way of stimulating creativity in a work environment. In another study, volunteers who watched humorous videos generated more creative ideas than folks who didn’t screen funny programs.

Here are just some of the reasons why humor and/or play can lead to creative thinking:

So the next time you want to tap into the creative potential of your employees consider a few of the following ideas:

  1. Meet in a Fun Location – a change in venue offers a fresh perspective and can allow people to access their humor easier. Most people say they are least creative at the office, so take the team to a park, museum, zoo or someone’s house.
  2. Create a Fun Meeting Space – post funny posters, bring toys or funny costume parts to liven up your meeting room.
  3. Begin a Creative Meeting With Some Fun – Brainstorm 50 creative uses for a stapler or play theater improv games to loosen people up.
  4. Brainstorming With a Twist – brainstorm the opposite of the problem or step into someone else’s shoes to find the humor and some creative ideas. How, for example, would Jim Carey, James Bond or Wylie Coyote solve your problem?

As a closing thought, keep in mind the words of Cynthia Heimel, “When in doubt, make a fool out of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.”

Copyright Michael Kerr, 2015.

Michael Kerr is an international speaker, trainer and author of “You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work,” “Inspiring Workplaces,” and “The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank.”   Reach Michael at and visit for more articles, videos and other resources.


Copyright © 2018, Michael Kerr. All rights reserved.
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