To Think Divergently It's Critical to Think (And Play) Like A Child.
"How so?" You might ask. Have you ever taken notice of children riding a bus or a train? They're the ones with their faces pressed against the windows looking out in awe and wonderment at the world passing before their eyes. They're dreaming. Creating and innovating without any of the criticism that we adults have learned over the years. Criticism and self-doubt that at times stunts or prevents us from thinking divergently.
Kids know how to play. They have wonderful imaginations and if you're a parent, hopefully you are nourishing those imaginations. So, it makes sense that as adults when we 'play' the various parts of our brains associated with creativity come into (sorry for the pun) play.
Play can come in many forms and most involve some sort of body movement. Play is a form of exercise and when we exercise we effect how creativity works in the brain. There is a slew of conclusive evidence on the positive effects of exercise readily available for your review. I have my own evidence (non-empirical) for those of you who might be interested in learning about my personal experiences.
So if play is so important to divergent and creative thinking, why aren't we doing more of it in the workplace? If you live and work in North America most likely your work environment and work culture supports working long hours with infrequent breaks and very little 'play' time. Yes, a certain amount of pressure and stress are valuable when looking to innovate but too much causes paralysis and burnout. (See the Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 28, February 2017.) Americans work very hard but, how efficient, effective, and productive we are, is a question for another post. Playing, having fun does not mean that you are not working. Being childlike is very different than being childish.
So before you start your next meeting, try some simple play activities such as stretching, drawing on whiteboards, laughing, clapping, running in place or, better yet, whenever possible, take your meeting outside and walk, talk, and create solutions using your childlike sense of fun and adventure
I would love to hear your experiences, ideas, and approach to thinking creatively. Now, get back to work.