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on 11 July 2010
Before we get to the fun, don't be misled. This book has a serious message and one that everyone in business in the current climate should pay heed to. The authors - one half of the Eurythmics plus a brandman who's worked with everyone from Coca-Cola to Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection - are on a mission to reignite creativity in the workplace. Kids, they say, are instinctively creative. But not only do we lose this skill as we grow up, organisations often obstruct creative behaviour. So, over twelve chapters, they share enough examples, tools, inspiration and insights to enable even the most process-driven employee to get creative.

Now to the games. From the contents list laid out like a board game ("try rolling a dice to tell you which chapter to read next") to the brightly coloured pages that look like someone has read the book before you and highlighted all the useful bits, this is a joy to read. Unlike other cringeworthy attempts at humour in business books, the playful computer-game-like characters and deadpan jokes work. But the real value in all this `fun' is in the board games at the end of each chapter. Want to come up with as many ideas a possible? Throw some prompter topics into a bowl, connect them each to a fork with a piece of string, mix them up and play idea spaghetti: pick a fork, follow the tangle to the prompter and see how many ideas you come up with in the next five minutes. The player with the most ideas after four rounds wins. Stuck for inspiration on a big problem? Spin a pencil round the wheel of distraction and follow the instructions. You might be told to go for a walk, do a crossword puzzle or have a vodka martini. As the authors say, even if the distracting activity doesn't send you straight to the lightbulb moment, at least you'll have had a good time.

These games might sound trivial, but anyone who has sat through corporate brainstorming sessions and the like, will appreciate how formal `creativity' sessions often kill the buzz from the start. The authors know this - and provide real insights into how things work in practice. My favourite game - about getting others on board with your ideas - includes a `death by committee' square where your idea is shouted down and you must respond with the phrase "I'm so glad you brought that up", while smiling continually. Fail at this and you slide back to the beginning of the game.

If you want to boost creativity in your organisation, give The Business Playground a spin. The games will immediately put you and your team in the mood for idea generation, problem-solving and off the wall thinking. And the insights into how things really work in organisations will make you realise you're not the only one battling against corporate malaise.
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on 17 June 2010
I wasn't overly sure what to expect from this when I bought it for some holiday reading but it didn't fail to fascinate and entertain. Some may find the layout distracts from the information within as it comes across too arty for it's own good in places. That said however - once you get over that then the insights as to how successful businesses are run and how to come up with and sieve through creative ideas is entertaioning and useful. The examples given from the authors' experience are great to read. Each chapter has a little game at the end that you can either ignore or get stuck into alone or with company so you can truely grasp the concepts covered in that section and play with them yourself. Overall a great book and I look forward to further publications especially from Mr Stewart.
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on 19 July 2010
What do the following have in common? Richard Branson, Dave Stewart, Mick Jagger and Mark Simmons. The answer is that the authors and main contributors to this book on creativity in business are all British.

Does this suggest that British business is more entrepreneurial than that in the US? Clearly not. Yet the focus on the music business hints at the answer. No one told Mick Jagger to get a qualification before he was allowed to perform or record music. Creativity is not fostered by a culture of tick-box qualifications and Britain still has a strong amateur culture.

Based in psychology (convergent versus divergent thinking), this book has a main premise. That adults need to unbutton, unlearn and trample on protocols in order to regain a childlike state of creativity. Picasso had said it took him a lifetime to learn to paint like a child.

The book uses games and case study examples to get this message across.

Dave Stewart's essay on the failure of the music industry to adapt to the rise of the internet is excellent - and I would have liked more on the future of innovation. For this, I recommend the work of another British writer: Charles Leadbeater's We Think.

The Business Playground
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on 11 May 2010
I heard the co-author Dave Stewart last Saturday on Radio 2, chatting with Jonathan Ross, and was intrigued, as I was not aware of his other activities outside of music, this book is a scorching way to investigate your own ideas, old and new, and work out how they could actually be turned into real business ideas. One of those books you really do not put down until you have finished it. Only downside: Jimi Hendrix spelt Jimmy...proofreaders missed this one..Otherwise a real inspiration.
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on 10 June 2010
I am a lecturer at an FE college and bought this hoping it would spark some creativity in me. It certainly did. Easy and fun to read as an interest / reference book, but also backed up by proper references and bibliography for further reading, this book is crammed with up to date thought on creativity both personally and in business. There are kooky little games at the end of each chapter which I am thinking of adapting for my teaching in some way, and even an up to date definition of action research. I really enjoyed the process of reading this book, it's colourful and interesting to look at, keeping the readers' interest. Worth buying if you are in a creative industry or trying to be creative to start a business or improve your business prospects.
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from the primal and bombastically bright blast of the front cover, via the eulogy from richard branson and all the way through the original, diagrammatically eye catching and well constructed blend of image and lexical tone, 'the business playground' serves as a well thought out and superbly easy to follow recipe to turn your business ideas from an inedible pile of gloop to a delicious treat.. the alternative, yet never wacky for the sake of a punchline or at the expense of the reader's cognitive journey, design keeps the dialogue fresh and interesting and serves as a rhinocerous of an allegory in hammering home stewart and simmons' key motif: creativity, creativity, creativity!
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on 24 April 2012
One of three books i took on holiday , the other two didn,t get a look in , I found business playground totally absorbing , entertaining and challenging although it lost me at times , too much information that didn,t always conclude i lost the thread here and there possibly because i recently discovered the benefits of the power of less and had a good declutter , business playground seems to suggest creating with more like spinning five plates at once to eliminate bad idea,s which makes perfect sense if you have a grasshopper mind like me and can multi task but really need to focus on the essential.
A very stimulating book and essential tool to kick start and maintain your creativity .
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on 14 June 2010
I picked up this book as a holiday read and was looking for an insight into Dave Stewarts world of business following his interview on the radio.

The overall content was thought provoking not only for business but how we interact with the world around us.

The layout and format, make this a book that you can nip into when you have five minutes on the train(or in my case - by the pool). As it says in the forward, you do not have to read the chapters in any particular order.

Overall, a good read for anyone who wants to get on with other people and a challenge for those in business who have been on the usual management courses.
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on 29 November 2012
This is a very unusual book. Full of of interesting ideas but it never explores those ideas to any meaningful degree. The authors are on to something here with examples of how ideas pass between human groups and are then often unintentionally improved upon. However its as if the real purpose of the book is to introduce business management to an audience who would, in the normal course of their lives, never experience it.
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on 28 May 2010
I am currently studying Creativity(B822) as part of the Open University MBA and this book reinforces and complements the course material brilliantly. Whilst definately a bit quirky, fun and lighthearted, scratching beneath the surface reveals some excellent concepts; many with practical applicability.

Strongly recommended
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