Innovation and Nonsense

“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.”Roald Dahl


I remember telling my grandpa wild, imaginative stories, and he'd always respond with a chuckle, then waive his hand and declare, "Nonsense Joy!"

For years, I wasn't sure what he meant, but I knew my story was deemed unimportant and I should “move along” and let the adults have their conversations in peace!  My creative ideas weren’t exactly encouraged and, even then, I bristled against being dismissed.

As a result, when I hear the word “nonsense” now, I mentally skip a beat and want to lean into the conversation and argue the merits of nonsense. I want to champion imagination. I want people to value silly and recognize that the birthplace of innovation IS play!

When we play

we experiment,

we create,

we dream.

These are elements in every innovative project.  So why not “go there” intentionally? Why not find ways to play?

The benefit of play is well-established.  This is why tech companies have ping-pong tables and game rooms on campus and why they build slides between floors.

How can you apply play in your work environment?

Maybe you don’t decide how to build out your company office space or don’t have the patience for the party committee, but you want to get your play time in. Spend a few minutes and think of practical things you can do to influence the fun and silly around you.

  • Start a meeting with a creative video.
  • Decorate your cube (or someone else’s cube) with a theme for a day.
  • Throw a party for your company’s anniversary.
  • Establish a silly award to celebrate something random.
  • Arrange post-it notes in a fun design in a friend’s office.
  • Keep a razor scooter in the office to travel between cubes.
  • Organize a group “sports” tournament (ping-pong, corn hole, scrabble, whatever!)
  • Develop a “pot luck” day where people bring in their favorite foods to share.

You get the idea, right?


Engage in a little nonsense…then watch innovation grow.