There’s something to be said for doodling during meetings.

According to Presidential biographers, our nation’s leaders indulged – a lot.  JFK drew sailboats; Reagan, cowboys and hats.  And Eisenhower, pictures of himself as a younger, stronger citizen.

The growing presence of whiteboards in the office, not to mention the increased number of virtual meetings, begs for white paper and pen (or pencil) to illustrate.   Drawing while otherwise occupied might, for sure, be a symptom of boredom; at the same time, it allows us to focus on what’s being said.

That kind of child’s play appears in other parts of work life:  mainly, in those corporations where imagination and innovation seem to be treasured.  HP devoted Friday post-lunch afternoons to thinking and tinkering, while 3M’s famous 15 percent “to do your own thing” came up with such hits as Post-it notes.  Today, Apple, LinkedIn, and Fusenet, among others, allow techies specific amounts of time to dream, develop, and create products or initiatives that will further the business’ goals.

Wait, though:  True experimentation, very often, results in failure after failure after failure … before netting any type of success.  How lenient are companies in allowing their best and brightest to continue to think after a series of no-gos?  Will goals and structured space generate great ideas that turn into worthwhile and revenue-producing products?   Are the innovators among us seduced by the 9-to-5 and accompanying benefits?

Or what we’d suggest:  Let’s decamp to a nursery school or kindergarten and watch, for a few hours, how children play.  What they do in terms of toys, space, and each other to create an environment in which they are genuinely happy, expressive, and, yes, inventive.  

It’s something we’ve lost.  But we – and our employers - can regain it. 

How?  Your answers more than welcome at