Harnessing Childlike Play for Business Breakthroughs

December 12, 2023

Harnessing Childlike Creativity for Business Breakthroughs

“Creativity often involves a degree of uncertainty, and a culture that doesn't tolerate failure can inhibit innovative thinking.”

It’s easy to be creative when expectations are low. But how do we leverage it when the stakes are high? Oftentimes, we find comfort in the familiar, gravitating toward what we've already encountered or understand. It’s comfortable. It’s not until we’re forced to do so that we leave our comfort zone. Embracing childlike creativity reconnects us with a universal human experience. Leveraging this creativity can dramatically elevate careers and businesses, breaking through conventional boundaries to explore new horizons.

In this article, we'll explore how embracing a youthful mindset, using four creative methodologies and principles, could break through the creative barrier hindering the success of your creative endeavors or business breakthroughs.

I’m Rich and I’ve been working as a professional creative for over a decade. During this time, I’ve been experimenting with ways to be more creative at work, consistently finding ways to express personal creativity, and methods to bring more business value to the craft that has allowed me to make a living as a Designer in today’s world.

Early in my journey, I discovered the profound connection between my mindset and productivity, directly influenced by screen time. It eventually dawned on me that, especially in the tech realm, immersing oneself in nature serves as the essential counterbalance to the demands of a day spent in front of the computer. To thrive in a tech career, it's crucial to prioritize a life intertwined with nature—perhaps even making it a requirement.

This reintroduction to nature was a strong reminder of how my kids would behave and their relationship with screens. After nine years, we’ve found that the longer our kids spend on their screens, the less favorably they’d probably behave. And conversely, the more outside time they get in, the more likely they’d be happy and exercise creativity more frequently. This revelation isn’t anything new for seasoned parents, but what if being creative was your job? Could childlike imagination and time in nature help us reach untapped creativity?

As a designer, I’ve employed four key creative methodologies and principles to better balance my work with my life. But I’ve also observed how it’s specifically helped my career and supported the businesses that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. At Formidable, now NearForm, we strongly believe that: to be your best at work, you must be our best outside of work. This balance of dichotomies allows our work as creatives to flourish, whether they’re creating a moment of delight for a user or crafting a strategy to bring a product to market.

Four Methodology & Principles to Embrace

1. Fearless Exploration

Children possess a fearless way of experiencing new things; it’s crucial for their development. They naturally ask lots of questions and look for plenty of answers encouraging learning and the reward of new skills and better knowledge. Children innately experiment, innovate, and think outside the box, fostering imagination and creativity.

All of this teaches us to embrace curiosity and take creative risks. Engaging in creative play and immersing in nature rejuvenates, heals, and inspires new ideas and connections. This mindset highlights the importance of trying new things because sticking to what’s familiar can stunt growth. When we prioritize curiosity, it allows us to broaden our perspectives, ultimately nurturing our empathy for others.

2. Imagination and Playfulness

Facilitating unstructured imaginative playtime for children is crucial for fostering both learning and brain development. When children let their imagination run wild during playtime, they learn so much. They figure out how to solve problems, improve their social intelligence, and learn to understand & process their feelings. This kind of play also makes their minds more creative and improves speaking and thinking skills. So, when kids play and use their imagination, they're growing also. Why can’t we, as adults, tap into imagination and playfulness for our own growth?

Imagination has a knack for bringing out a playful side in our approach to creativity, especially in business. It's what gets designers and creators back to the heart of their craft. The reason it's crucial is that it sparks innovation, collaboration, and problem-solving. When we infuse imagination and playfulness into business, it creates a workplace culture that's adaptable, innovative, and engaging. Fostering a culture that embraces these values leads to better problem-solving, more creativity, motivated team, and a sense of joy - all of which are key for long-term success and growth in the business world.

3. Embracing Mistakes

Kids tend to embrace mistakes because avoiding them is not their priority. They’re simply not afraid to “color outside of the lines.” This process of trial and error encourages learning and growth, another critical component of a child’s overall development.

Businesses stay away from creativity when the proposition of failing is more than they can handle. Creativity often involves a degree of uncertainty, and a culture that doesn't tolerate failure can inhibit innovative thinking. It’s often times within the mistakes, the most valuable business breakthroughs are discovered.

4. Collaboration and Sharing

Collaboration is integral to a child's development. It promotes social, emotional, and cognitive growth. Educational environments that encourage and provide a forum for collaboration give children valuable skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Teamwork is a game-changer for businesses. It sparks innovation, amps up efficiency, and keeps teams happy in the fast-paced world of business. Companies that make collaboration a priority don't just tackle challenges better — they also maximize opportunities to grow.

Encouraging employees to share ideas freely, without fear of judgment, creates an environment where innovation can flourish. Establishing collaborative spaces outside a agenda structure can break down physical barriers, allowing for spontaneous interactions and idea exchanges. Additionally, investing in collaborative activities that go beyond typical professional contexts of structured meetings (like think tank sessions or playful team bonding experiences) can foster genuine creative expression and open sharing.

Putting it into practice

Set Aside Time for Play

Dedicate specific time slots each week for creative play. Treat this time as a non-negotiable appointment with yourself, just like any other important commitment.

The goal of incorporating creative play into your routine is to enhance your creativity, reduce stress, and contribute to your personal and professional growth. It's not just about the quantity of time but the quality of engagement and the positive impact it has on your overall well-being and work performance. For me, the morning hours tend to be the most productive time.

… teams that played a collaborative (video) game together for just 45 minutes were able to increase their productivity on a task by 20%. – Source

Experiment with Different Forms of Art

Experimenting with different forms of art can help you discover new passions and creative outlets. As creatives, we all have a desire to create things. Oftentimes, designers believe that their careers can satisfy this craving, but all too often, this is not the case. Before you run off to find another job that seemingly will stretch your creative muscles, designers must explore more avenues to express their creativity. This exercise of practicing the mindset of the creative process allows us to segregate the mental state that creativity triggers from our 9-5 job.

Explore Nature

A UK-based Human Resources consultancy recently found that investing 15 minutes to outdoor activities during the workday can boost productivity levels. The company's survey found that office workers who spend time outside are healthier, less stressed, and more productive than those who don't.

The research also reveals that taking short breaks outdoors during the workday can benefit employees' well-being and productivity. Regular breaks away from screens help people relax, reset their minds, and focus better when they return to work. Encouraging employees to use outdoor resources like parks or green spaces during breaks can boost energy levels, focus, and job engagement.

Sample Work Week to Harness Childlike Play

alt text here

Unlock Your Potential

Tapping into our childlike creativity at work brings back the untethered side of creativity that often fades as we grow up. Consider this a gentle reminder to consistently embrace your playful side, enabling the emergence of your most creative self. Don't fall into the trap of allowing suppressed creativity to remain undiscovered, preventing it from ever reaching its full potential. Wholly embrace your inner-creative, ensuring it blossoms into a powerful force of self-expression.

Register here for your free mini guide to send to your team

Related Posts

Prioritizing People: Crafting Human-Centered Design in Technology

May 17, 2024
Every day, millions of people around the world are affected — sometimes inundated — by digital experiences

A Rare Interview With A Designer who Designs Command-line Interfaces

May 13, 2024
For years, terminal and command-line applications have followed a familiar pattern: developers identify a need, code a solution, and release it for free, often as open-source software.

Navigating Design Tokens: Strategies for Team Success

April 25, 2024
Design tokens and systems occupy a collaborative space between design and engineering