Where Have All The Children Gone

By | October 31, 2008

I was in a class recently where it was stated that by the age of 40 we only have 5% of the creativity we did when we were kids. I heard myself say “that really sucks”. Everyone else heard it as well since I let it escape from my, obviously, uncreative noggin.

Do we accept this fate?

Children have this innate ability to look at the world through unvarnished eyes. They have an honesty and openness that is refreshing. Over time, they learn the rules, abide by the rules, become aware of the opinions of others, act and speak as others would have them, and start to conform thus losing a great amount of their wonderful creativity. Most organizations contribute to this continued “dulling” of our minds by creating a conforming mass of Stepford Wives through a constant barrage of:

  • “You need to follow the policy.”
  • “No, that’s not the way we do things here.”
  • “You’ll have to get permission to try that.”
  • “But, we can’t do that here.”

There is an implication that organizational policies have it all figured out. We just need people to follow the rules and everything will turn out wonderfully. Today’s organizations must be more adaptive than ever before. Yes, policies and rules are important but they were not originally designed to limit our solutions. Let’s not allow them to kill creativity.

Like no other time in our history, we must create organizations that are adaptive, allow workers to swarm around a problem, and have the freedom to use all of their creative potential. Provide the goal, let ’em loose, demolish command and control, and see what happens when we bring the children back.

A few references that have shaped my thinking on this:

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