November 9, 2006
- by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The headline is from an article in the 10/9/06 edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer written by Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press. The article discusses the overscheduled kids of today. The American Academy of Pediatrics says what children really need for healthy development is more good, old-fashioned playtime. Numerous studies have shown that unstructured play time has many benefits. It can help children become creative, discover their passions, learn to solve problems, relate to others and adjust to school.
The above brought back very early and fond career memories. In approximately 1980, I met Dr. Sidney Parnes of the Creative Problem Solving Institute. I frequently refer to his book "The Magic of Your Mind," written in 1981. The Doctor's Orders written above fit extremely well with a major portion of Sid's book. Sid relates it to the adult mind. As Sid says within the book, "We begin life in the shelter of a mother's womb, much like in a cocoon. Then we break out. And the child we become is a butterfly full of imagination. But what happens after that? Have you returned to a cocoon? A psychological cocoon? A cultural cocoon? Are you now in what Ashley Montague once quipped, "a womb with a view?"
Ironically, the child has oodles of imagination, but often very little judgment; the adult acquires oodles of judgment, but often loses the imagination in the process. Our objective, therefore, is to allow knowledge to grow without stifling the natural associative streams of the mind. This involves imagination that is not only developed but disciplined as well.
Become an "Adult Child." Strike an effective balance between imagination and judgment. See things in ways other than as originally presented; make new and reIevant responses to challenges or problems that are both explicit and implicit. If you really want to have some fun the next time you are involved with Brain Storming, try one of my favorite methods for bringing out unusal solutions. Ask those involved to describe how they think Einstein or Galileo would approach the problem. Also ask how Curley (from Larry, Curley and Moe), Mickey Mouse, or Donald Duck would solve the problem. It can be a lot of fun as well as informative.
From my perspective, it is time to unlock the chains that binds researchers to their desks. It is time to free them from the mundane daily business and let the Adult Child in their nature to explore the universe of the consumer. Rather than attending meetings and reading reports, they need to interact with the consumer, to get involved in consumers' daily tasks. I can remember employees in the commerical cleaning product area going out and working in restaurants to get a feel for what the customer had to go through with to achieve the desired results. There was also a program called "Invite a P&Ger to dinner" where a person from R&D spent the day with the homemaker preparing dinner and staying through the entire clean-up process.
I also had flash backs of a program called the "Expert Director Test" where two P&Gers would go to a
homemaker's home and do the family's laundry under the direction of the homemaker. Some really great stuff came out of this program. My flash back also included one of my biggest pet peeves. Frequently we had to deal with our management and their direction concerning the needs of the consumer. Now, it was my experience that management was lucky to know the difference between the washer and dryer but they had their opinions and you had to deal with them. That was where the "Expert Director Test" was of great help. While we were doing the consumer's laundry we were also video taping the process. Those tapes were of great value in putting the laundry process into perspective for all involved in the decision process.
Unlock the chains and turn the researchers loose into the general public.