If you want to see the type of behavior adults need more of, watch some 5-year-olds on a playground for a few minutes. Step back in time and forget about deadlines, committee meetings, and company politics and think about how children create and invent anything they desire at a moments notice.
1. There are no boundaries.
Children don’t have any limitations to how they think, or what they think about. Buckets become castles, blocks of wood glued together become battleships, a stick becomes a magic wand. Everything is possible.
2. They have a lot of fun.
Kids enjoy the process. It is the imagination and wild ride they are enjoying that is the entertaining part. Inventing something from nothing is a lot of fun.
3. Easy on the competition.
Yes, children can be very competitive with one another. They will compare their inventions to others’, but when one idea is clearly better kids will drop the poor idea in a heartbeat and adopt the better idea. It is all good.
4. There are no problems.
When children are creating something, they are not solving problems. They are seeing opportunities for something fantastic. If they want to fly off a shed roof but they don’t have wings, that is not a problem. They just invent wings. If they don’t break anything on landing, then they had a successful experiment.
5. If you don’t like the world, then just change it.
When a 5-year-old encounters a barrier or obstacle, they don’t fight it. Rather, they change the rules immediately. Bike stuck in the mud? The bike instantly changes into a cow that needs saving, they go and get a rope, lasso the cow and pull it out. They just change the world to make it what they want it to be.
6. Try being adorable.
Finally, children don’t forget to be cute while they are being creative. Innocent musings presented with a smile and enthusiasm is better than a PowerPoint presentation. Have you ever seen a child rush into a room with a new invention and explain it with three bullet points and an executive summary?
Yes, the adult world is a complex and challenging place to succeed. Life is short though and we could all use a bit more playfulness in business. Maybe being a bit more childlike isn’t such a bad thing, is it?
Roy Luebke is an innovation expert focused on discovering new, customer-driven opportunity areas to help define the future of a company. He is inspired by knowledge and learning, and applying structured tools and methods at the crossroads of strategy and innovation to achieve business growth.