HomeEducationThe Design Thinking & Innovation Startup that Makes you Play Seriously and Think Design while Transforming Business

The Design Thinking & Innovation Startup that Makes you Play Seriously and Think Design while Transforming Business



For Avinash Jhangiani, Founder of Play2transform, the only way to stay relevant is to continuously disrupt your own self. And to do that, he believes that it is important to keep the child inside us alive.

Perhaps, this is why he changed track from technology consultancy to digital marketing to design thinking & innovation consulting over his career span of twenty years.

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Today, he runs his own learning and development firm Play2transform from the commercial capital of India, Mumbai. Play2transform is a unique strategic transformation and innovation consulting firm that uses the principles of ‘play and design thinking’ to accelerate transformation.

To know more about Play2transform, the TechGraph editorial team sat with Avinash and unraveled unique insights about the company. Here’s an excerpt of the conversation:

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

This quote flaunts on your home screen. Have you always been a Bernard Shaw fan and did he inspire you to lay the cornerstone of Play2Transform?

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We struggle because “Play” and “Work” seem paradoxical.

While growing up, we were clearly told that work was serious and play was fun. By the virtue of our 19th-century education methods, most of us were never taught to have fun with learning and lost our ability to play and think creatively like a child over time. Today our preconceived notions about how work should be done significantly limits our ability to think creatively.

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“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing,” said George Bernard Shaw.

But with children, nothing has changed even today. Children are still filled with curiosity, desire to discover and tons of creative potential that is waiting to be tapped and nurtured.

So we asked – can we bring back these principles of Play (seriously) into our workplace?

Turns out this is not an option! Curiosity, creativity, and collaboration along with being ICT (digitally) literate are some of the much-needed competencies to survive and grow in the 21st century, as per the World Economic Forum.

Research shows that when we think with our hands and listen with our eyes, we discover a new world to be explored and uncover creativity to make a difference as well as find purpose for ourselves.

Play is the cornerstone of creative learning that involves collaborative, experiential and trial & error learning. And surprisingly enough, these are the same principles of ‘design-led innovation’ – that is now a fast-growing trend.

“With AI taking over routine information and manual tasks in the workplace, we need additional emphasis on qualities that differentiate human workers from AI — creativity, adaptability, and interpersonal skills” – Harvard Business Review, June 2017

As things around us become Internet-enabled, being digitally illiterate will be like not knowing what do when the lights go off at home today. Problem solving and creativity in technology-enabled environments is no more an option. We all must know how to work better with each other and what tools to use to keep the lights running.

In an AI-driven future, it is evident that fostering a creative, collaborative culture not only the workplace but also in our education system can help us stay relevant and innovate in the 21st century.

What are the industry challenges you have observed that coerced you to jump into the learning and development space and offer play-based services?

Change is hard, but we believe it can be fun and rewarding too.

We started this journey with a simple mission to disrupt how we learn and apply our learning using “Play” as a catalyst.

We believe that even as an adult, one can and must think like a child to innovate and achieve new, sustainable outcomes in the 21st century – a time when ideas are your only currency! We must shift “from the old school of scalable efficiency to the new era of sustainable creativity” to stay relevant in the new digital age.

Today, while the growing need to survive in the rapidly evolving consumer-led landscape is forcing companies to think and innovate like start-ups, there is too much talk and not much action. Change is slow as usual and we face severe under-employment, according to NITI Aayog.

There lies a significant opportunity in cultural transformation. We need to find ways to ignite creativity, build agility and collaborate better, along with leveraging digital technologies to scale up transformation. Also, we know now that what works in the US or EU may not necessarily work in India, so there is no proven method that can be used as a reference. The India ecosystem of schools, colleges, government and businesses are still struggling to find ‘harmony in this chaos’.

The reason why many companies are struggling at digital transformation and innovation is because they haven’t learnt how to fail fast.

While many companies let CIOs drive digital transformation, expecting an IT leader alone to cultivate collaboration and open innovation is easier said than done.

We are also now seeing that we can neither leave design to designers, innovation to digital agencies, culture change to consultancies and learning to L&D firms to drive the much required change.

Digital transformation is about people, not about technology. Companies need to build an agile, design-led, customer-focused innovation culture, before leveraging new technologies to transform consumer experience, marketing, sales & operations, and create new business models.

The design-driven CEO needs to be the ambassador of transformation and bring technology, culture and business together. This is what future-ready firms do!

Today’s top innovative brands like Uber, Apple, Ford, Starbucks are consumer-obsessed companies with a relentless focus on design, technology and fail-fast culture to succeed at innovation but in India, we struggle and how!

While design-led innovation is now a transformational force, organizations continue to struggle with accelerating cultural changes within organization.

We all know that thinking creatively, having constructive conversations and working collaboratively are the much-needed first steps for companies to become more open and agile.

Could you please walk us through your suite of services, describing how it actually manages to tap into the subconscious mind of a person and transform him into a creative individual?

It all started 20 years ago when I began my career. After shifting 8 cities globally, serving 40+ clients across industries, and changing careers 3 times (from technology consulting to digital marketing to design thinking & innovation consulting), I have realized that the only way to stay relevant is to continuously disrupt yourself. This could only be achieved by keeping my inner child alive.

This venture is a natural extension of the same principles that I have used to progress in my career.

The mission of the Play2Transform Group is to disrupt learning using play as a catalyst. Our simple mantra of “Play Seriously. Think Design. Transform Business.” changes the way knowledge is delivered and problems are solved, both for business as well as the education ecosystem.

We offer play-based workshops and end-to-end transformation consulting services that shifts mindset, breaks silos and fosters a culture of innovation, agility and collaboration in the ever-changing landscape of exponential technologies. Leading cultural change by design is necessary for Digital Transformation and Innovation, specifically to radically improve customer experience, marketing, sales and operations. We call this play-based, entrepreneurial mindset as the Playpreneur® mindset.

What differentiates us from any other design thinking, L&D or training firm is our diverse backgrounds in design, new technology, organizational development, education, marketing and innovation.

We apply the design thinking coupled with systems thinking process, toy with Lego® Serious Play®, home-grown “The Bheja Fry® Card Game”, Empathy building, Failure Fast Toys, and other games to build 21st century competencies. These play-based methods have proven to uncover unconventional creativity and accelerate the necessary changes in behaviors and mindsets. Some of these products are available at the21Cgames – our products arm.

We also tinker with DIY emerging technology kits to cultivate unconventional creativity necessary for the new digital age. While we use new technologies to enable innovation, we also inspire using universal truths such as Vedic mathematics and Golden Proportions.

Further details on the Corporate and Education service offerings with videos found here.

Please tell us about your endeavors in the education space, highlighting the Beyond2020 Project in particular.

We are empowering educators and schools across socio-economic groups with design-led, growth mindset workshops and thoughtware in order to help them get our kids future ready.

Please read the manifesto at beyond2020 for further details.

Note: You will see a “Mindset Shift Playbook for Educators” that has 12 mindset shift cards. This is downloadable for free.

As a part of transforming the education ecosystem, we are looking at making investments, mentoring startups and partnering with changemakers to accelerate the required transformation


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Krishna Mali
Krishna Mali
Founder, CEO & Group Editor of TechGraph.

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