Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why child-likeness for creativity?

Prabhakar L. Head HR of the Agri business division at ITC, a well known HR professional, shared his insight with me today on the linkage between child-likeness and creativity. Thanks to him for the much needed 'elbow in the ribs' that got me writing this article.

Child-like behaviours are characterised by a certain spontaenity, staying in touch with one's emotions, an implicit trust in the people around and playfulness in experimenting. The brain is in a 'toward' mode ( when it senses that Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness are all available in the environment.

One way is to work on the external environment such as culture of the organization to ensure these at the workplace. The other approach is the internal approach where the employees can be 'themselves' in a child-like mental frame and they are not judged based on this, but purely on outcomes. This may be quite possible in a product development environment.

So, what does being a child-like state do to the individual? A child doesn't have a high status need as much as an adult. So, as long as the basics are in place, Status is taken care of.

Certainty is possibly not something a child is habituated to - of course - other than the basic routines. Child-likeness means that I am pretty much in the 'here and now' and the certainty need is addressed as well.

Autonomy. Child-likeness doesn't wait for autonomy to be granted. It is assumed as available.

Relatedness. Relationships are created. Belief is that others are relatable and I need to reach out.

Fairness. This could be a tricky situation for adults, but a child-likeness means that I express my displeasure when I think there is a lack of fairness.

With SCARF taken care of, the brain naturally slips into a toward state. This is required for the brain to start concentrating on 'nothing particular', but keeping the solution focus in one's awareness. This leads to a inward looking state of the brain that precedes insights. Insights create deeper awareness, understanding and problem solving which are components of what is finally called creativity.

What can I do as a leader to ensure creativity in my team?

Start by donating $20 to charity everytime you start a sentence with 'but', 'however' or 'No'. Try it for a day. It effectively kills the habit. When you stop using these sentence starters, you start listening without judging. That is a good start as a leader.

You can start being child-like. This means that you need to address your own insecurities that hold you back from being child-like. If you find it difficult, you can take help from a peer or a coach.

Start celebrating. Celebrate, acknowledge, appreciate. Child-likeness requires generosity. The world has enough space for all of us and creativity creates even more space for yourself and for others. When you create space, others reciprocate.

You have fun!

1 comment:

  1. Great Write up!

    I liked this
    "Start by donating $20 to charity everytime you start a sentence with 'but', 'however' or 'No'."

    I will start implementing this.