Many innovators have a child like curiosity and perseverance. When we closely observe an innovator innovating and a child playing, we will see quite a few similarities.
When you start doing something just because it gives you happiness, you are happy and you become more receptive to new ideas. You right brain is fully triggered and new ideas flow spontaneously. When you start worrying about business alignment, market need etc your left analytical brain takes control. You struggle hard to get new ideas.
When you are playing, you do pursue and achieve goals. But you are not worried all the time about winning or losing. You enjoy the game. Winning still makes you happy. But when you lose, you remind yourself that it is only play and use the lessons learnt to play better the next time.
To be successful in innovation, we need to create a child play environment. The child is so engrossed in the play that the real world around no longer matters. The child is focused on the play rather than the outcome.
The child is continuously learning and growing through the process of playing. We stop growing when we stop playing. The child has no ego that gets a beating when he loses. He is ready to fail many times and finally learn. His curiosity to know, willingness to learn, eagerness to grow keeps driving him.
When we start worrying about losing, become very serious and stop having fun, we also stop innovating.
Coming back to playing, my favorite game is Calvin Ball. Calvin introduces this game to Hobbes. This game has rules but the players make the rule on the go. Both players can continuously keep introducing new rules. It is the most dynamic game you can ever imagine.
Innovation process is more like playing Calvin Ball ( Bill Waterson). There are rules but the innovator has the power to make new rules at any time.