Back in September, I blogged about the innate creativity of children (Green leaves are green). It’s something I’m keenly aware of- and the reason I use improvisational games and other off-beat techniques when facilitating work around innovation. So, last week, when delivering my newly developed “Personal Innovation” workshop at Stanford Continuing Studies, I tried some new activities. I’m always wary about how people will respond to such things. Will they revolt, feeling it’s beneath them or ???? You think I’d learn to trust the process…
It was a full day with a lot of discussion, self-assessment, and information sharing. Late afternoon, I wanted the participants to create a collage about their future success. To get them in the spirit, I gave them a warm-up activity: color a page from a coloring book. To be sure this tapped into everyone’s inner child, I went out of my way to find truly childlike coloring books: Mickey Mouse and Toy Story.
Two interesting things happened. First, when I told people to color OUTSIDE the lines, only one person did. Psychologically, it still didn’t feel “right” to do so for most. For a few, they didn’t want to ruin the picture. Which led me to observation #2: although I had planned to get people started on the coloring for a couple of minutes before moving onto the collage, everyone wanted to finish the coloring first. They were having too much fun to stop. Mindful though I am of how each of us has that playfulness inside, I was [pleasantly] surprised at how open and willing these adults were to allow themselves to experience it. Thanks to that attitude, it was a productive day for those involved. And, as usually happens, I learned as much from them as they learned from me.
Note to self: forget about acting like an adult all the time. Time to take a break and act silly.