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WIX: Playfulness & Innovation
By Shlomo Maital
WIX dalpak
WIX: Reception Desk
I have the privilege of visiting startups and writing about them. Yesterday I visited WIX, an Israeli company which, with over 60 million users, leads the world in services for building beautiful websites. It is the first such company that has done an IPO (on NASDAQ). It is based on North Tel Aviv.
The first thing I notice at such startups is the physical ambience. WIX chose to locate not in Tel Aviv’s high-tech area, in North Tel Aviv, but near Tel Aviv Port, which is a playground for thirty-somethings. The reception desk is the first thing you notice (see photo). It conveys playfulness. This is crucial. WIX is not a startup but is in the scale-up stage. It has strong revenues and a gross profit margin of over 80 per cent. But it retains its atmosphere of creativity and playfulness. You encounter this from the outset, when you check in at the reception desk.
In its crowded bulding on Namal St., it has a rooftop area with a stunning view of the Mediterranean, where events are held. Like Google’s Mountainview campus, food is readily available, and coffee. WIX employs 800 people, 600 of whom are based in Israel; but despite its size, it tries to retain the feeling of being small, lively and playful.
Recently at a seminar at Tel Aviv University, participants told me about the difference between “play”, “playing”, and “playfulness”. The latter is a kind of mindset that nearly always disappears in large organizations, when manuals, handbooks, protocols and procedures are set up. WIX has so far retained it. I hope it will continue to do so.

 Can You Come Out to Play?  WILL You?

By Shlomo  Maital


   I’m married to a very smart psychologist, who is an expert on children and play; as a result, I get to read many interesting, sometimes wonderful, articles.   The latest is one published in 2007, by L.A. Barnett, titled “The nature of playfulness in young adults”.  The purpose of the article was to see if the term “playfulness” could become a valid “construct”, i.e. a clear, well-defined concept recognizable by all and useful for further research.  To this end, the author used focus groups of adults.

     The result:  A rather long, but insightful, definition of “playfulness” in adults.

      Here it is.  Read it.  See if you have these qualities.  Why?  Because, as the author notes, “playful people are uniquely able to transform virtually any environment to make it more stimulating, enjoyable and entertaining.”    Want an extreme example:  Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, a film about a father who made life in a Nazi concentration camp into a game, for his young son (Academy Award, Best Actor 1999). 

 Playfulness is the predisposition to frame (or reframe) a situation in such a way as to provide oneself (and possibly others) with amusement, humor and/or entertainment.  Individuals who have such a heightened predisposition are typically funny, humorous, spontaneous, unpredictable, impulsive, active, energetic, adventurous, sociable, outgoing, cheerful, and happy, and are likely to manifest playful behavior by joking, teasing, clowning, and acting silly.

   Do any of those adjectives describe you?  Yes?  No?  If no – do you want them to?  If so, you can definitely change.   Just remember how you played when you were a child, and copy yourself as you once were.  

   What does this have to do with innovation?   “Reframing” (seeing the same thing differently from others) is a key part of playfulness, and a key aspect of creativity.  If you can ‘reframe’ to play, you can reframe to create.   

  • L.A. Barnett. The Nature of Playfulness in Young Adults.   Personality and Individual Differences, 43 (2007), pp. 949-958.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital