Growing starts the second you are born, and learning immediately thereafter. As children, we are unencumbered by negative thoughts. We believe we can be whatever we want. Think back to when you were young. What did you want to be? A cowboy? A ballerina? An astronaut?
Whatever your answer, I’m betting you are in a much different position than what you dreamed of as a young child. So when did it all change? While there is an argument that you had to “grow up” to get a real job, there is also some interesting science behind this transition.
At the height of the Apollo program, NASA hired some of the brightest rocket scientists. But they weren’t just looking for education – they wanted creativity and innovative thinking so NASA could place them on teams to solve complex problems. Basically, they wanted people who could believe in the impossible.
Being NASA, they put together an assessment to identify these people and actually found it to be pretty simple. And the results somewhat startling. Only 2% of the adults given the assessment scored above a threshold they established to be considered truly creative and innovative.
After a bit of time, they became quite good at identifying these creative, innovative thinkers, which made the folks at NASA wonder. What if they could identify these people early in their life? Certainly that would make recruiting easier. So NASA performed a study of 1,600 5-year olds across the country. They found that 98% of the children were above the threshold of creative genius.
Interesting! So NASA tracked these children and here is what they discovered:
- 98% of 5-year olds were above the threshold of creative genius.
- 30% of 10-year olds were above the threshold of creative genius.
- 12% of 15-year olds were above the threshold of creative genius.
Remember, these are the same children tested throughout different points in their lives. The reality is that as we age, we lose the ability to be creative and innovative.
Challenge the Norm: There are two things going on inside your head that compete – the creative, innovative, exploratory side and the rational, logical, methodical side. Through school we learn to exercise logic and become rational – which is certainly positive. However, as we age we lose the ability to be truly creative. Our minds do not want to let us think beyond that we know we can do.
As business leaders it is our responsibility to our company and our people to encourage creativity and ideas. There are too many times that someone does not speak up for fear that their idea will be shot down. Ideas are like children – they must be nurtured. When choosing to build more creativity and innovation in your company culture, remember to build the best environment. The following tips will help get you started:
- Encourage Constant Creative Communication – when you call a brainstorming meeting and expect people to produce, often you get some good results. But think about how powerful it would be if people were encouraged to be creative and communicate that creativity all the time. Rather than a command performance, you infuse your organization with creative thinking and conversation on a regular basis.
- Build a No Critique Zone – all ideas are good. Period. There is no “oh we tried that before” or “that won’t work.” Every idea deserves to be heard. Keep a repository of these great ideas for people to comment on regularly. You never know where your next big idea will come from.
- Include Outsiders – especially customers. You can find out a lot about innovating your company if you simple include others. Whether they are customers or prospects, ask for their input. It creates a collaboration that benefits all parties.
Most importantly, give yourself and your team permission to engage with your inner 5-year old. Be open to new ideas and remember that anything is possible!
Want more compelling information on business growth? Check out this video from our last ExperiPro Business Growth Summit!