Tom Critchlow

Filtered for... Play

May 20, 2020

Starting a new “Filtered for…” series inspired by Matt Webb

A theory of play - and playfulness - has been brewing for some time. Brian and I wrote up a theory of the “playtime CEO” for Little Futures:

But as the speed of reality increases, many organizations feel in a constant state of wartime. This can lead to tension, stress and confusion. If things are constantly changing are we doomed to exist in an endless war?

We hope not. Perhaps instead of the peacetime/wartime CEO duality we should consider a third way: the playtime CEO.

In a world that is constantly changing, organizations require a playful theory of operations- small, creative explorations as an always-on mode of action.

I really like this framing of knowledge work:

In other words, deliberate practice of knowledge work requires testing knowledge, and that is achieved by doing. Note taking is not the under-studied force of knowledge, play is.

Of course, there’s already a “universal theory of play” out there - Finite & Infinite Games:

Infinite players, in contrast, look to the future. Because their goal is to keep the game going, they focus less on what happened, and put more effort into figuring out what’s possible. By playing a single, non-repeatable game, they are unconcerned with the maintenance and display of past status. They are more concerned with positioning themselves to deal effectively with whatever challenges come up.


This blog is written by Tom Critchlow, an independent strategy consultant living and working in Brooklyn, NY. If you like what you read please leave a comment below in disqus or sign up for my Tinyletter.
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