Formal innovation frameworks are having their time in the sun. And for good reason: innovation drives much of business and likely the overall economy. One of the things I find most interesting about innovation, and in particular innovation methodologies, is how they can help imbue teams with a more humanistic approach to their work.
In the frameworks of Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Service Design Thinking, and Circular Design, there are common attitudes that are advised for participants in the process. A key attitude (if not the key attitude) that is super important in the discovery and learning phase is typically called ‘the Beginner’s Mind.’
I prefer calling it ‘Child’s Mind,’ as adult beginners can be pretty thick headed about experiencing joy and curiosity when encountering something new as opposed to the attitude of almost any child.
Child’s mind is the fundamental, the most ancient of all mental models. In some ways, it is also the most powerful. As we grow and mature in the world we develop our personalities, learn new things, and experience life, but we also become saddled with psychological baggage, which binds our thinking and decreases our mental flexibility.
Those of you who have had the opportunity to spend time with a young child have, hopefully, experienced one of their “firsts”: walking, crawling, hearing a dog bark, a train whistle blow, seeing a bird fly. Not only is it fun to witness, but it can also help you reconnect with that innocent, yet powerful curiosity that lives within each of us.
Innovation’s muse is creativity and creativity is only possible with curiosity. And the child’s mind is the fountainhead of curiosity.
The Child’s Mind should not just be a one-time exercise to use during one of your innovation sessions, but something to be cultivated by you individually, your team, and your organization.
Being open to the world will not only afford you the ability to approach innovation with creativity, but will have ripple effects in other areas of your life. Tap into that primeval awe and wonder and allow it to guide you at work and in your life; you will not only experience discovery but profound enjoyment.
One last thing: Children are really adept at flopping on the floor at any given moment; sometimes used as a survival method to escape taking their plate from the table to the sink, but maybe also to shift their perspective or change their state of mind. Next time you have trouble at work getting into the state of Child’s Mind, try the grown up version:
Child pose pic from Wanderlust
Also published on Medium.