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4 steps to defining the work of a positive, playful, work psychologist!

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Positive psychology x new media x work

It is quite arbitrary, of course, to sum up a blog at the end of each month, but it is also quite useful and I am astounded again by the ground I have covered and the people I have met.

The high point for me has been finding Jane McGonigal‘s description of “engines of happiness”. That came via attending the NLabNetworks meeting in Leicester which I attended primarily to meet Ken Thompson of Swarm Teams. What would Jane call this? Ping quotient I believe.

Though I am more than chagrined to take a year to discover this work, Jane McGonigal’s analysis of game design in terms of positive psychology brings me exactly where I want to be. She looks at the intersections of positive psychology and alternate reality games and points out that game designers make better use of psychology than designers in other spheres, such as work.

Yes, exactly. The intersection between positive psychology, new media and work is where I want to be. And if work becomes more engaging, more compelling, more involving and more meaningful, you want more psychologists there too!

We are ready to roll

I could spend the rest of July summing up June! We seem to have 4 key points to consider at this intersection.

1 What is our role?

How do we relate to other people? How much does it matter to understand what our clients want? How much does it matter to feel and be part of the drumbeat of a wider community?

I expect a consultant to understand why I ask the questions I ask by understanding my business and then to add value by bringing to bear expert information in their field.

The British have an expression “fit for purpose”: to be fit for purpose we must understand purpose and to understand how we augment that purpose.

In social settings, purpose is contested. The way we act reinforces or changes hierarchies, rights and privileges. I am always wearied by professionals who believe they are not part of this process. We are making the future as we take part, as we are made in the way we take part.

The starting point of a vibrant practice is enjoying the complexity and fullness of life in the age in which we live! Our practice should be a celebration of times in which we live! I particularly loved the way Paul Imre highlights his clients’ businesses in his own blog. I think we could all do more of that.

2 What do we understand as the essence of life and therefore how do we try to manage life?

JK Rowling gave the commencement address at Harvard this year. She talked of the importance of imagination which leads us to both innovation, and empathy, and then to collective action.

Eric Schmidt talked of his role as CEO at Google and what it means to a manager of a company which values imagination.

If there you have any doubt about the zeitgeist of our age, listen to those two videos and let me know what you think. JK Rowling talks of people who live in narrow spaces being frightened. Today, the idea that we can live imaginatively and playfully is fresh and exciting. I’ll give it a year before it is almost old hat. Within ten years, we will be in another phase of life, whatever that will be!

Studying an imaginative approach to life is new for many psychologists and I am learning from poets, philosophers and social media.

3 How can communicate what we offer to other people so they can make informed choices?

Switching registers from talking with each other to talking with our clients is difficult, but we do need to switch back-and-forwards. Someone who just “sells” loses touch with the fundamentals of the field and someone just in technology is incomprehensible to our clients so cannot add value.

I found a good articles explaining in lay terms what coaches do . I’ll add it to my three posts on what we do as my growing set of templates (consulting to businesses, social media, general outline of psychological practice, essential ideas about happiness).

4 Skills

And our basic skill base: I’ve put together a 5 point comparison of 3 dominant approaches in positive psychology (Hero’s journey, Appreciative Inquiry, David Whyte’s poetry), I’ve started a wiki for positive vocabulary, and I laid out a wiki of positive psychology courses which colleagues on LinkedIn kindly reviewed for me.  I also summarized well known work on job design and contrasted it with the attributes of computer games.

What’s on for July?

Saturday 4: MediaCampLondon. Registration is free. Head to the site. Come along. This is a good opportunity to experience an unconference.

Monday 28 July: Personal leadership presentation at University of Buckingham.

Technology: Get the google appengine going. Why? Websites should take us hours to get going, not months.

Social Technology: Dry run of Swarm Teams, Ken Thompson’s SMS system for teams.  I am particularly keen to demonstrate how new social media allows us to capture the energy that builds up at conference that we have previously allowed to “run down the drain” at the end of the meeting.

Aspirational Goal: Gather together people who see the same potential in the intersection of positive psychology, new media and work!

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