Invention at Play

Inventors’ Stories
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Jerry Hirshberg, Founder of Nissan Design International
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A late-model Infiniti

A late-model Infiniti

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The interior of Hirshberg's NDI studio, showing lotso of images and ideas tacked to the wall
The interior of Hirshberg's NDI studio, showing lotso of images and ideas tacked to the wall

What’s Tough about Working in Teams?

“You need to have a pretty secure sense of self when a person working on the same project as you has an entirely different set of priorities. The folks we’re hiring share almost nothing--except a deep belief in their own way and their own passion. This is not a place for the weak-kneed.”

What’s the difference between play and work?

“Creating can be elusive, frustrating, and plain hard work. But it also has a necessary quality of abandon and recreation about it. Work tends to be a convergent activity, focusing in on the task at hand. Play is a divergent activity. It opens out and is not easy to contain. At NDI, we have deliberately made room for it, and it is often difficult to know when we are using play to work or when we are simply playing while at work.”

“All of which leads my wife to ask, ‘Do you folks ever actually do any real work around there?’ We do. Really, we do. But creative play is such a quixotic, fleeting, and, well, playful business that it is difficult to come up with concrete examples of how this spirit yields important results. But it does, continually.”

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