Imagination Is Key

I have two lovely daughters.  They are similar but different – one being much more creative/artistic while the other is practical/structured.  Those are their areas of comfort and certainly their approach when it comes to problem solving.  It’s quite interesting to watch them think things through.

I worked for some time as an enterprise architect.  This is really similar to what people know as a traditional architect – buildings mostly.  I my case, I take the overall view of a business, its services, and its solutions – then map out how they work today, the growth, and then a plan to get there.  It’s a relatively new field, and not something that I’ve ever found taught in a formal institution (college/university).

It’s easier to compare it to Lego blocks.  I define those blocks, then use them to modify/build new things.   When I was a kid, I had a ton of Legos.  I never had instructions for them, just a giant pile of blocks.  I built what I wanted.  Nowdays, 90% of Lego come with an instruction book.  I am given a general idea of that final structure but it’s my job to build that final picture and instruction book.  Except I deal with people, technology, and really big budgets.

My kids aren’t really given the opportunity to flex that imagination muscle.  Everything is packaged/rote.  School has yet to really transform from memorization/tests to practical tests and creative outputs.  There’s not much focus on group-work.  It takes some effort to provide opportunities for them to develop that skill set.  But they do it.  My youngest may create new songs or dance moves.  My eldest may build a spaceship and pretend that it flies across the moon.  They’re both given boxes, and they make conscious efforts to look outside of it.

Tooting my own horn here, but when they were younger my wife and I applied a problem-solving approach to the kids.  We allowed them a fair amount of freedom in the house to discover what did what, and then to manage their own needs.  Practical example – making breakfast.  By the age of 2, both were able to make their own breakfast on their own.  They knew where the dishes were, the food, what amount to use, where to put the dirty dishes following.  We were both watching them… didn’t want knives and stoves going… but they did an awesome job to figure out how the pieces worked together.  All of a sudden we’d see Nutella, yogurt and cereal in the same bowl.  Something we sure didn’t show them.

It makes for interesting feedback from their teachers too.  Rather than either following the “expected behavior” they ask questions all the time.  (It’s a bit like that Simpson’s episode where Lisa steals the teacher’s copy of the lesson books).

That does take energy and patience.  It is a lot easier to just show them the right way (or your way) and have them repeat it.  There were a lot of spoiled breakfasts, or things I certainly would not have eaten.  I see it as an investment.  The steps we took years ago allow them to self-manage today.  It helps with their decision making process, taking more into account than just black and white.  They can relate to past experiences, find similarities, and then find a new solution.

It’s truly an eye opening experience to watch children grow and learn.  To see them fall and find a way to pick themselves up without our direct involvement.  Now if I could only slow time for it to last a bit longer!


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