As ringleader of Play, the Virginia-based catalyst of RealTime activities such as the Sit Down, Smackdown and Activation Session, Andy Stefonovich must walk the talk of creativity and execution every day. It’s not easy being brilliant and quotable on cue, but Stefonovich doesn’t seem to mind … or hesitate for one moment.
During his sessions with RealTime attendees, the co-founder of Play promoted the concept of “recreational thinking,” and then asked the audience to bring forward problems they have encountered in promoting and activating great ideas. Through a series of amusing and inspiring anecdotes, Stefonovich presented a Play solution for nearly every person’s quandary — filtering good ideas to find the truly great ones, pushing risky ideas at successful companies, and encouraging different team members to think in individual ways.
Following his storytelling session, Stefonovich spoke with Fast Company about playgrounds for great ideas, mojo, and RealTime Orlando.
Why are you and your team from Play here at RealTime 2000?
I’m here first and foremost because of the passion I have for Fast Company and the community you are creating. Secondly, Play is here as a follow-up to a conversation our company has been having with the FC:Live team in regard to a collaboration at Realtime. This is our first experiment, and we are going to play for the next three days by creating and implementing, which is the essence of Play. That is why 16 Play people are here.
What message do you hope to convey through your sessions and Play-inspired activities?
Ideas drive the new economy. You can have all the strategic initiatives and tactical support mechanisms, but really only truly great ideas are going to drive the new economy. We are seeing that in dotcom companies as the proliferation of great ideas are expanding around us at an exponential rate. The power of play and creativity are the essence of business today.
Where do great ideas come from?
Great ideas come from many places and many people. It’s not the guy wearing a black outfit at an advertising agency called the creative director. That is not where great ideas come from. They come from every single person, and they are very organic. We have a term at Play called the “inside-out only philosophy” that says mojo, good ideas, karma, energy, thoughts, and experience are not only within each individual; they also exist within the company. Ideas must organically create an environment that best facilitates more ideas, values, and creative processes. Then and only then is a group ready to take those ideas to the outside environment to express what they are what kinds of things they want to articulate.
Where do you stand on the Built to Last/Built to Flip issue?
The Built to Flip and Built to Last issue is a very topical one that can be frightening if people don’t look at it from the most realistic standpoint. I believe the right companies will flip and the right companies will last. That’s organic and that’s what they were meant to do. We need to be careful about not letting IPOs, and mergers and acquisitions get us too deeply ingrained in that world of flipping. Business doesn’t need to be that scientific, and hasn’t been that scientific for hundreds and hundreds of years. Business is a simple service of bartering and exchanging services for something else. We have to remember that ideas and the implementation of ideas is what business is all about; not getting caught up in that Built to Flip orientation. Companies are driven by their corporate essence, their inner soul and personality.
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