Think like a child to bring innovationThink like a child and bring innovation

It may come as a shock that thinking like a child can be much more effective than thinking like an adult. It seems quite counter intuitive, doesn’t it? Studies show that adults asked to solve problems while pretending to be children garner better results in terms of creativity than when asked to use a normal adult approach.

The question is, why?

Social Programming

There are several reasons why. As human beings age, they become stuck in traditional methods of thinking. Adults accept a rigid framework of normative thinking and behavior due to excessive social reinforcement. The best way to think of the difference between a childish mentality and an adult mentality is to view children as beings that have not yet assimilated themselves to a normalized society. Adults have accepted the logic, rules, values and behavioral mores that human society has declared as legitimate. This is assimilation by way of osmosis and social pressures. The key is to not forget one’s roots; to not fully assimilate. The vibrancy of a childlike mentality must be maintained, even if hidden beneath the exterior of a three piece suit or a makeup laden face.

*Tip! Hopefully this gives you food for thought for the content of your next meeting or event. Is there a way you can urge the participants to go back to basics and use the creative approach of a five year old? A classroom set-up might help, or even using boardgames from the 80’s or 90’s!

Irreverence for Convention

Most adults don’t use their imagination on a regular basis. A child’s creativity is constantly tested and practiced. Kids have no fear of asking questions and will gladly offer solutions with no fear of embarrassment. This is due to the fact that they do not value others’ perception of themselves as much as adults do. Adults have been conditioned to always sell themselves and strive to impress. It’s how one gets a job and moves up the corporate ladder.

Such pressures have not yet shaped a child. He simply does not care if others think less of him for asking a question or pointing out what he perceives to be an injustice. And he’ll gladly offer up his unique solution to the injustice or problem without fear of embarrassment. The result is a spontaneous and free mind without reverence for convention. Perhaps an adult relinquishes a good bit of his imagination when he submits himself to hierarchical structures and obeys social norms.

*Tip! In your next meeting or brainstorming session, start a question with “If you were a child…”

Do you still ask “Why?”

What is it about children that spawns creativity and out of the box thinking? Part of the phenomenon is their overactive imaginations. A child will always question things and ask his parents and teachers, “why?” and “what if”. Adults tend to accept things as they are. They’ve learned that the world can be a cruel place and the questioning authorities and social norms has negative consequences.

Contrarily, a child views things as they “should be”. A child will point out injustices at every opportunity. “That’s not fair!” is a common refrain heard from children. They eagerly imagine things as how they should be instead of how they are. Children have a relentless internal push towards making things right. This plays a large role in their imaginative abilities.

*Tip! In your next meeting, ask the participants to have a critical stance on what you are presenting and come up with some “Why” and “What if” questions.

Why So Serious?

Kids don’t feel the pressure of monthly bills, a boss and family responsibilities. They spend a lot of time playing. When one plays, he imagines and creates. The more that he uses his imagination, the better he becomes at the creative process.

Think like a child and play for half an hour each day. Daydream, write a short story, draw or play a video game. Playing allows the mind to operate in a spontaneous manner, something that most adults have forgotten how to do. We must re-kindle the childlike curiosity and spontaneity that is buried deeply within us all. These qualities will serve us well when approaching challenges at work and at home. So, be a kid again.

*Tip! Create a play area at your next event; this can help attendees unwind and enhance creativity. Depending on the theme of the event, you can create an inviting area with board games, pinball machines, arcade games or table soccer.

For some more fun but scientifically proven ways to improve your meetings and events please click here