Sandbox Time – The Importance of Play When Learning New Technology

November 18, 2009 by  

Put in sandbox time to master your technologyOne challenge many teams and organizations face is getting their people to use and embrace much of the amazing collaboration software and technology that is available. In working with virtual teams, we find that many people tend to fall back on email rather than shared online work spaces – or opt for traditional conference calls rather than using web meeting or conferencing services.

Find Their Comfort Zone

The biggest stumbling block is getting your team comfortable with the new software or service and truly understanding the benefits it provides.

In short, why would it make my life or job easier?

Far too few companies provide training on these technologies – so you and your colleagues are forced to figure it out as you go along or after a very brief tutorial. This sink-or-swim mentality causes many of these powerful tools to go untouched and impedes productivity.

The secret to turn this all around is simple . . . play!

The Power of Play

Play is a non-threatening way to remove stress from learning and encourage exploration of the features of new technology. Create some type of project for your team that’s fun and everyone will be excited about using the new tool.

Want your team to start using SharePoint or some other type of web-based discussion board or collaboration space? Why not setup a place where they can share recipes, bios, and information about their hobbies and families?

Want them to use WebEx or some other meeting service? Create time to have a regular virtual water cooler where they can share photos, create a poll about which books or movies are their favorites, or pass control of the desktop around to write a story together (with each person typing their paragraph into Word) or give a tour of favorite useful websites.

Play Let’s People Succeed and Fail – Safely

Let’s face it, no one wants to explore using a new technology or tool with the pressure of a project deadline; or the possibility of looking foolish in front of peers and co-workers if you are not using it correctly. I’m extremely comfortable with technology, always have been, and I attribute that mostly to the fact that I play with it and explore it’s features before trying to use it for something important.

When trying to learn Sony Vegas for video editing I didn’t create some critical video for my business website – instead I took some family footage and created something fun to share with friends. When looking to learn more about desktop publishing I didn’t immediately create a company newsletter – I created a mock CD cover for my band.

The only limit is your imagination!

Ask the people on your team, they may have some great ideas for fun projects. This is extremely useful for virtual teams: using a fun, playful approach to learning new technology not only leads to greater technology adoption and increased productivity, but also encourages informal communication and team building, which in turn increases trust and accountability.

It’s not just about choosing the right tool – it’s how you thoughtfully apply it. So find ways for your team to play with the tools you want them to adopt and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they find new ways to apply them to their work process and teamwork.

Have you used “play” in your work environment? Post a comment below and tell us about it!

(Thanks to Webex for featuring this as a Guest Post on their Ideas in Motion blog.  I highly recommend this blog where they share ideas and tips for innovation and working smarter)

  • Great post, Phil! I love the idea of setting up a meeting service like webex to have informal discussions as people learn the tools.

    Along those lines, we should start a regular “Anywhere” book club where we all video conference together and talk about the books we’re reading. Might be fun!

  • Great post, Phil! I love the idea of setting up a meeting service like webex to have informal discussions as people learn the tools.

    Along those lines, we should start a regular “Anywhere” book club where we all video conference together and talk about the books we’re reading. Might be fun!

    • Dave I LOVE the idea of starting an “Anywhere” book club! I’ve always been a big reader but have been so busy lately I was letting that slip. I have recently committed to devoting time every day to reading again and I’ve already got a queue of books at the ready. Reading Trust Agents right now and have Crush It!, The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook, and Seamless Teamwork in the wings. Also finishing up Total Access by Rich Eisen (getting my NFL fix).

      Let’s definitely plan to do this soon! Give me a shout and we can discuss what tech to use and who might want to be involved.

    • Dave I LOVE the idea of starting an “Anywhere” book club! I’ve always been a big reader but have been so busy lately I was letting that slip. I have recently committed to devoting time every day to reading again and I’ve already got a queue of books at the ready. Reading Trust Agents right now and have Crush It!, The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook, and Seamless Teamwork in the wings. Also finishing up Total Access by Rich Eisen (getting my NFL fix).

      Let’s definitely plan to do this soon! Give me a shout and we can discuss what tech to use and who might want to be involved.

    • Dave I LOVE the idea of starting an “Anywhere” book club! I’ve always been a big reader but have been so busy lately I was letting that slip. I have recently committed to devoting time every day to reading again and I’ve already got a queue of books at the ready. Reading Trust Agents right now and have Crush It!, The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook, and Seamless Teamwork in the wings. Also finishing up Total Access by Rich Eisen (getting my NFL fix).

      Let’s definitely plan to do this soon! Give me a shout and we can discuss what tech to use and who might want to be involved.

  • Great post, Phil! I love the idea of setting up a meeting service like webex to have informal discussions as people learn the tools.

    Along those lines, we should start a regular “Anywhere” book club where we all video conference together and talk about the books we’re reading. Might be fun!

  • Great post, Phil! I love the idea of setting up a meeting service like webex to have informal discussions as people learn the tools.

    Along those lines, we should start a regular “Anywhere” book club where we all video conference together and talk about the books we’re reading. Might be fun!

    • Dave I LOVE the idea of starting an “Anywhere” book club! I’ve always been a big reader but have been so busy lately I was letting that slip. I have recently committed to devoting time every day to reading again and I’ve already got a queue of books at the ready. Reading Trust Agents right now and have Crush It!, The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook, and Seamless Teamwork in the wings. Also finishing up Total Access by Rich Eisen (getting my NFL fix).

      Let’s definitely plan to do this soon! Give me a shout and we can discuss what tech to use and who might want to be involved.

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  • graceandi

    We used play when assessing web cams in our new Adobe Connect meeting space. Send your staff to different conference rooms, all with a different camera, and learn! I also rotate Adobe Connect chairs for internal only meetings so that everyone can get used to being the leader and learn to run a conference in the virtual room.

    • Awesome Grace! Not only did you explore and learn the technology in a fun setting but I love that you rotate who is chairing the meeting. Even if one person will primarily be running the virtual meetings it helps all participants to know some of the challenges of leading a group like that. Bravo Grace!

  • sohle183kidegs@mail.ru

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  • Very interesting game. By use soft ware many people like to play this entertainment.As a result in a short time it becomes favorite from students.

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