A Secret to Innovation: Childlike Imagination
Need inspiration to do a better job of marketing, collaborating and growing a better future for your business? Then observe your kids (or somebody else’s kids if yours are grown). The kind of imagination we had as children tends to get put away as we grow older—but as a father who cherishes every moment I can get with my kids, I see the need for it more and more. And I’ve learned TONS of things from just watching my children interact that can (and should) be applied to growing a business.
For instance, kids are natural explorers—they’re open to ideas—they’re spontaneous. They play constantly. And it’s when they’re in a state of play that they’re the most focused and creative. We need to play MORE in order to get out of our adult box, build stronger relationships and let those creative juices flow.
At a talk recently I asked the question, “Do you think you’re a great artist?” Not many adults raised their hands, but I made the point that if you ask a room full of kids the same question, just about EVERY hand goes up! They don’t just think, they know that they’re great drawers. They don’t have self-imposed limitations, and they can’t wait to share their creations. Plus, they bond instantly with each other. Just think about the possibilities for your business if you could “let go” and tap into that childlike enthusiasm! Some companies are already doing it—and getting great results.
You’ve probably seen the astonishing pictures of Google’s workspaces. They need their employees to be on top of their game—always innovating—so their work environment is more like an elementary school kid’s dream than an office space. Bright primary colors, lots of open space, slides to get you from one floor to another, video game rooms, pool tables… seems to be counterintuitive to “getting things done at work” right? Well, they’ve got exactly the right idea for turning on their employees’ creative mojo, and it works! Look at all the innovation that comes out of them! A bunch of their initiatives might end up on the cutting room floor, but they’re always moving and shaking because the company has created the perfect environment for the creative brain.
You don’t have to have Google’s budget to do this, either. Start with yourself. If you get a chance, sit in on a young child’s birthday party or in an elementary school classroom and just watch them. Really watch them. What happens when new kids come into the room? They immediately run to the group and start interacting. If somebody’s building with blocks, suddenly you’ve got a whole table full building right along with him, with comments like: “What if we did it this way?” “Wow, that looks cool—let’s put some cars in here.” “What would happen if we put that umbrella on top?” Sounds like a think tank, doesn’t it?
By just observing how kids interact, imagine and play, you can come away with some ideas on creating a fun, collaborative environment in your business—things that really bear fruit. Unleashing a childlike imagination in a playful environment is where new products get invented, ideas germinate, and collaborative bonds become established. Is it any wonder that lots of profitable business partnerships are formed in social environments? When you can tap into the inner child, feed the source of creativity/imagination, and build relationships, anything is possible.