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Now we are three : what to learn about creativity from pre-schoolers


Ideally has just turned three! We’ve made it past the precarious newborn phase and the petulant tantrums of the terrible twos (thankfully, not

many) and are now entering into a new level of maturity. Which got me thinking...

Whilst I’m keen to encourage my clients to be thoughtful about their ideas and their creative processes, it’s important to keep the child-like, playful aspect of creativity which allow us to find and explore possibilities. In other words, to get them creating with their hands as well as their minds.

So where else to turn to but the parenting gurus at Netmums, and their advice about what to expect when it comes to the play of three year olds. And, of course, to find the lessons for those grown ups among us who are either in the business of ideas or need ideas for our business. Here are just three things to think about.

1. Just try

Netmums says of 3 year olds:

“She will make up words and songs of her own which are sometimes unbearable to listen to as they go on and on and on. She enjoys messy play with sand, dough, water and paints. She will also love clambering on climbing frames and bouncing on trampolines.”

Which makes me think:

In our own creative experiences, are we too tidy and too safe? We all know the theory that creativity involves risk and failure, but do we still really accept it in ourselves, and our teams? Let’s really try to let go, try new things and just see what happens. But just as with play equipment or craft materials, we can still experiment and explore securely; it’s all about balancing the downsides with the potential, and managing the situation. Remember, there is a difference between danger and risk.

2. Bring in friends

Netmums says of 3 year olds:

“She will now interact more in play with other children by talking and sharing activities, but it remains a Herculean task for her to share her favourite toy - best not to ask her.”

Which makes me think:

Collaboration is key to some of the most successful creative ventures or innovations in the history of human experiences. What creativity expert Steven Johnson calls “liquid networks”. And yet we are often so closed, wanting and expecting the creative experience to be a solo rather than a choir. We may not want to share our favourite toy - that one, precious and personal idea – but to get the best out of it, shouldn’t we at least let it interactive with others’ toys, to see what stories we can tell together? Or, from the very start, share the activity of idea-making so that we have joint, equal stakes in it from the start. Let’s really try to open up. As Piglet famously said when he was without Pooh, “It’s so much more friendly with two.”

3. Tell me about it

Netmums says of 3 year olds:

“She will be able to copy a cross on a piece of paper and build a tower of nine bricks. If you ask her what she is drawing she may well tell you, although it is doubtful you will recognise her interpretation of a bus.”

Which makes me think:

It’s important to reflect on our creative output. Not just because the best ideas attract an audience, resonating with others by meeting their needs and reflecting their experiences. But also because it help us make sense of them ourselves; when we play back the idea we’ve had, we can often find its strengths and weaknesses without even getting any feedback from the other person. Let’s articulate our ideas, and in doing so give it meaning. Of course, in the grown-up world of creativity, we usually do want others to recognise what we have created, but the first step is recognising it ourselves. A great tip : what is the truth or emotion at the heart of your idea, which could be expressing in many different forms but just happens to be in the shape of a TV format or an app or a retail product? What’s it’s “why”? If you can express this in a succinct and compelling way, I think you’re onto something…

So, as Ideally enters its fourth year, I’m encouraged to be playful by trying new things, bringing in friends and reflecting on what and why I’m developing for my business. Will you do the same?

#creative #creativity #ideas #playful #childlike #three #ideally #risk #collaboration #ideaarticulation

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