Let’s Get Serious about Play: Creating Resilience

October, 29, 2018

Continue the conversation with Erin Koppel, Senior Director, Enterprise Consulting, Tessitura Network



How would you define resiliency?

Is it getting up when you’re knocked down? Is it seeing the punch coming and dodging it? Is it working together as a team to minimize the knocks that will inevitably come your way?

For us in the business of arts and culture, one definition of resiliency might be sustainability through change, which isn’t very motivating. What if we aimed higher and defined resilience as thriving through change?

Change is constant, and only visible in retrospect. We evolve our programming, our visitors and audiences change, and our technological tools advance. Some of us take risks, trying new or even crazy ideas to try to keep our organizations on their feet. Others get cautious, and the reluctance to try new ideas can lead to boredom, for us and and for our audiences.


Is there a middle ground between the extremes of risky and boring?

There is, and that middle ground is fun. And I believe that this is precisely where organizations and individuals can create resilience. We can achieve resilience through the three innate elements of play: curiosity, creativity, and imagination.

Curiosity is the mindset of exploring the possibilities; it’s an open mind. How willing are you and your team to explore new ideas or try new approaches? Are you complacent, or are you curious? Open the tap of curiosity in your organization and explore.

Creativity is doing something differently, in your own way. It requires the courage to play and to try things out. It is sometimes born of desperation, such as when a deadline looms. It can be uncomfortable at first, but it’s also entirely natural once you get going. You and your team must have the courage to be creative.

Imagination is curiosity and creativity together, to create something amazing. It is the secret sauce to bring curiosity and creativity together at their best. This is where the magic happens in the realm of play.



How can organizations encourage curiosity, creativity, and imagination? What can you do to make room for play?

I believe that you should ask questions, and you must protect the opportunity to ask questions. Leaders especially have to guard that organizational hierarchy does not filter out great questions before they even are asked. “We’ve always done it that way” might as well spell “Death to curiosity.” Eliminate the phrase from your organizational lexicon.

Creativity requires risk-taking. Intentionally become more comfortable with the idea that what you learn from trying something new, will propel your organization forward through growth. That learning is precious, so create a safe place for your team to fail fast and well, and to continually learn and grow.




Imagination, I believe, requires funding. You won’t have all the good ideas up front! Plan ahead and set aside a discretionary portion of your budget to support imaginative ideas at their beginning stages.

We often hear that perfect is the enemy of the good. It’s also the enemy of PLAY. Aiming for perfection limits our creativity. Allowing ourselves to play can foster the ideas that can make us and our organizations more resilient. I look forward to hearing your stories of resilience when we meet again.

Download Erin’s presentation here.

Downloan Erin’s notes here.