Matt Andresen

Former mascot, banker, co-owner of web analytics co. and financial advising co. Currently PR, content and analytics marketing dude with Cleland Marketing.

Why Encouraging Childlike Creativity is Essential in Business

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Caeden Painting - Blog PicKids are naturally creative. If left to their own devices with crayons, paint—even a cardboard box, wonderful things often blossom. So what happens as we get older? Many people think kid “lose” that creativity. However, it’s really the grownups who take it away from them—and that’s a real shame.

Think about it. As adults we tend to mold our kids, push them in certain directions, and stifle their natural creative instincts. And it starts early with statements like:

“Don’t color outside the lines.”

“You didn’t do it like I told you to.”

“That’s not how it’s ‘supposed’ to be done.”

“Stop running around and sit still!”

I’m sure you can remember others that were told to you as a child. In an effort to keep life on an even keel, we force our children to conform their activities to a strict set of procedures. And eventually, it beats them down. They start to doubt themselves. They interact less—and even become fearful in certain situations. This isn’t something that just “happens” to them; it’s inflicted upon them.

Caeden and Tree SkirtSpend time with very young children, and you’ll soon notice that they default to happy. They sing at the drop of a hat. They skip rather than trudge. And as a parent I think we need to encourage this—not penalize it—because that creative spontaneity is sorely needed in the adult world of business. Why? Because innovation springs from creative thought. When a child is happy and relaxed rather than stressed, they think better and learn faster. They’re also nicer to people and build stronger relationships.

The same thing happens in business. Companies that create stressful environments, and stifle creativity, are not known for innovation. When employees are shot down for offering up new ideas often enough, they simply stop offering them. They learn not to rock the boat—to just get by and collect a paycheck—and also protect their turf (which doesn’t lead to good relationship-building… or strong, innovative, thriving organizations!)

On the other hand, companies that are always innovating generally have a much more energized set of employees because they have a less rigidly structured environment. They create the space and time for people to doodle, daydream and collaboratively think up out-of-the-box ideas. They reward those ideas—even if they fail—because they understand that it’s essential to encourage that type of thinking in order to keep innovations happening.

For instance, in Google’s  ITO program (Innovative Time Off),  employees spend 80% of their time on core projects, and about 20% on company-related innovation activities that interest them personally, and it has been a huge success. In fact, it’s reported that Gmail, Google News and AdSense were products that originated from the ITO program.

Another organization that encourages innovation is Adobe. The company created an entire division devoted to innovation, and developed a leadership position dedicated to championing innovation at all levels within the company.

These are just two examples of companies that “get it” and understand the importance of unleashing creative thinking in the workforce. There’s no doubt in my mind that more companies need to shift their culture to encourage the natural creative instincts of their employees. However, as a parent, I think that nurturing creativity must start at home. We need to be mindful of how our actions will forever shape the way our children interact with the world. Let’s encourage them to be spontaneous, creative and joyful. Who knows what innovations they’ll dream up?

And as employees we need to start a revolution of creative thought, empower our co-workers and subordinates to freely express ideas and truly jump into the creative process. We need to push this up to the c-suite and help them to understand the value. Social Media, internal and external to the organization, can help us do that in ways we never could before. Let’s make 2013 the year of opening up the floodgates to creative and innovative thought… at home, at work, and at play.

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Author: TedRubin

Ted Rubin is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators. In March 2009 he started using and evangelizing the term ROR, Return on Relationship, hashtag #RonR. Ted left his position as Chief Social Marketing Officer of Collective Bias on August 31, 2013. He remains a shareholder. In the words of Collective Bias Co-Founder John Andrews... "Ted, you were the vision, heartbeat and soul of Collective Bias, thank you for building a great company. From innovations like cbSocially to the amazing relationships you built with the blogger community, clients and employees, you drove the epic growth. You will be missed!" Many people in the social media world know Ted for his enthusiastic, energetic and undeniably personal connection to people. Ted is the most followed CMO on Twitter according to Social Media Marketing Magazine; one of the most interesting CMOs on Twitter according to Say Media, #13 on Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, and number #2 on the Leadtail list of Top 25 People Most Mentioned by digital marketers. Return on Relationship, ROR, #RonR, is the basis of his philosophy… It’s All About Relationships! His book, Return on Relationship was released January 2013. His new book, How To Look People in the Eye Digitally, was released January 2015. Connect with Ted at TedRubin.com or @TedRubin.

2 thoughts on “Why Encouraging Childlike Creativity is Essential in Business

  1. Pingback: Why Encouraging Childlike Creativity is Essential in Business |

  2. Pingback: Childlike Creativity is Essential in Business | GroTraffic Blog

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