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A Vivid Imagination Isn’t Just for Kids

October 2, 2009

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Sir Ken Robinson speak at the University of Saskatchewan as part of the Gail Appel Lectureship in Literature and Fine Arts series. His talk was titled Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative which focused on how our educational system and businesses are structured in ways that suppress creativity and imagination. He is convinced that we are at the start of a revolution as we are starting to recognize these limitations we have placed on ourselves.

Robinson presented an interesting study that showed how 98% of 1,500 children between the ages of three and five scored at a genius level in regards creativity. With those same children that number dropped to around 40% only five years later. By the time they were over the age of fifteen, the number was a measly 2%. The reason for this as Robinson posed, was that the children had been educated in our system. They had been conditioned to believe that there is ever only one answer, or one way to solve a problem.

If children are being taught to solve problems this way then they are obviously taking this with them to the workplace. What we end up with is people who feel they have a job and not a career. They feel that they are limited in what they can do, and are expected to work a certain way – the normal way. That natural sense of creativity has been suppressed for so long that the idea of trying to readopt it is not even on the radar.

What we have to do as educators and business leaders is create an environment that fosters creativity and imagination. The good news is that this is starting to get recognized in many organizations, and is being addressed. I’m happy to say that Point2 has been taking on this battle for the last year or so. We understand that creative minds will not only make our company a leader in the industry, but will also grow our team professionally and personally.

Like I said above, this is a battle. You don’t just say you are going to do it and it will magically happen. What we have found in our quest to create a culture of learning is that we have to come up with creative ideas to get the ball rolling. It’s kind of a catch 22 – we have to be creative in our ideas to develop a creative work environment.

We have implemented a weekly professional development program for our team and are constantly trying to make it more useful. We encourage trying to solve problems in a variety of ways and failing fast is always an option. And I love Marcos Tarruella’s idea in his most recent post, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  And keep in mind that it is not just the leaders driving this, but the entire group as a collective.  As always I am interested in hearing from others on how they get their teams’ creative juices flowing.

Sir Ken Robinson spoke about the myth that a human’s number of brain cells is finite, and as we get older we kill more and more of them off in a variety of ways. As it turns out humans can stimulate the growth of brain cells by exercising their mind through creative thought and imagination. I’m not sure how many brain cells actually exist at Point2 at the moment, but I’m pretty confident that it is rising.

By Hemant J. Naidu

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