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7 - Humour and Playfulness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2024

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Summary

Further exploration of this topic has been recorded in the University of the West of England 2023 ‘Spotlight’ series of podcasts.

(Turner and Norris, 2022, 2023)

This is one of the least explored of coaching topics but is centred on some of the very real factors that separate humans from other primates. The ways in which we can utilize humour in our practice and can, as humans, be induced to be playful, experimental and ‘lighten’ in our approaches suggests that this topic is important in the work undertaken between two people through medium of coaching.

Over a decade ago, with my original research into the development of leadership in organizations, I started to discover the role play (although I couched it in slightly different terms believing the creativity and sets of different exercises and the use of objects was important) and playfulness have on the acquisition of new skills and ideas.

Here is an extract from my original thesis which highlights the use of artefacts and the ways in which playful stimuli can be introduced into formal developmental interventions.

Setting a less formal atmosphere to the formality of a workshop reminded me of the playfulness of humans and how the creation of a relaxed atmosphere allowed for and encouraged the group to be a little more playful.

(Kark 2011)

Our original starting point was the work of Schein (2004) and his definition of artefacts in organisations, where artefacts can include any tangible, overt or verbally identifiable elements in an organization. Architecture, furniture, dress code, office jokes, all exemplifies organizational artefacts. Artefacts then are the visible elements in a culture and they can be recognized by people not part of the culture.

(Schein 2004)

We felt that using organisational artefacts in a development setting was already too charged with meaning that stemmed from organisational life (Engstrom and Blackler 2005), with the result that organisational artefacts might then be limited in their use to provoke or promote reflection.

Second, we were influenced by Michael Reynolds's (1999) ideas of critical reflection in management education that suggested to us the need to craft programmes that had radical content and radical process.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Theory and Practice of Creative Coaching
Analysis and Methods
, pp. 71 - 88
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2023

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