I read a great deal about ideas and how they are formed. I am currently reading How to Get Ideas by Jack Foster. If you have a challenge in your business and need some ideas, here are three really simple steps to thinking like a child – and generating some gems.
Step 1: Have Fun
In the book, one of the first things Jack writes is about children being the best at generating ideas, then over time we become worse at it.
Neil Postman agrees;
“Children enter school as question marks and leave as full stops”.
Children are the best creative thinkers – everyone from Einstein to Edison thought that. Charles Baudelaire described genius as ‘childhood recovered at will’.
Robert Oppenheimer the renowned American physicist said;
“There are children playing in the streets who could solve some of my top problems, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.”
Children live for fun. Fun is the key to thinking like a child and generating great ideas. The reason the creative floors of so many ad/creative/digital agencies are littered with toys, foosball tables, video game consoles and pool tables is to encourage the creatives to behave like kids and have fun.
So, next time you have a challenge and want to some fresh ideas from your team, take the ideas session outside or to your innovation agency, or to a restaurant. Anywhere but the workplace. Make it fun.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Why
As we grow into adults, we are manacled by decades of knowledge, too many boundaries, rules assumptions and preconceptions. Children have none of this baggage and never stop asking why.
- … is the production line set up like that?
- … is the product packaged the way it is?
- … does the product look like that?
- … do people at the front of the queue get served first?
- … can’t your fridge or bin order groceries for you?
- … do cars have fuel caps on only one side of the car?
Asking why is a great way to generate ideas. Children do it all the time.
3. Know That There Are Multiple Answers
During our academic and professional lives we answer thousands of multiple-choice, true or false questions. And so an assumption is made that all problems are like that, with just one solution. When the perfect solution can’t be found many people just give up or stop thinking of ideas.
But most problems are not like problems in school. Most problems have multiple solutions. Just look at the problem from another perspective or break down the problem into smaller parts.
As soon as your team realise they are not searching for one perfect solution, and know there are many solutions they will think more freely, associating old bits of knowledge with new bits of insight to generate new ideas.
So next time you have a problem ask yourself how you would solve this if you were seven years old.
Made It This Far?
Looking for some fresh ideas in your business? We work with organisations looking to develop new ideas. Sometimes quite successfully in fact. Get in contact with us by emailing me at email@example.com or by calling 01242 715 483.