FUTURE101
Kids drawing the future of your organization

Call in the Kids: Because Children Can Sweeten Innovation

diversity innovation kids use case May 19, 2023
The telephone took 75 years to reach 50 million users, while ChatGPT conquered the world in two days. As executives, we know that managing uncertainty is critical in a world that changes faster and faster. But have you considered teaching your children this skill to prepare them for even more change?

 

The Case

SAM'S STRUGGLE: A ONCE-SUCCESSFUL TOY COMPANY FACES AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a CEO named Sam who ran a once-successful toy manufacturing company. However, Sam faced an uncertain future as the rise of digital entertainment meant that traditional toys like dolls, action figures, and board games were losing their appeal to children. On top of that, technology was rapidly changing the toy industry, with 3D printing and virtual reality technologies becoming more prevalent.

To escape this crunch, Sam hired a futurist to design a project that would help develop a long-term growth strategy for his company. Together with the top 50 managers and external stakeholders, they set out to scan the environment for changes with future impact. They developed several future scenarios, considering the organization's current strengths and weaknesses. With this information, Sam was able to make a gap analysis and define where his organization could be in 10 years and how to bridge the gap between then and now, considering the impact of possible new changes along the way.

CREATIVE CONNECTIONS: UNCOVERING UNUSUAL IDEAS AND CONCEPTS FROM CHILDREN'S DRAWINGS

As part of the project, the futurist included a large group of children aged 8-14 to draw their dream of the future of the company's most popular toy: a car. The children's drawings were amazing, showcasing their creativity as they made unusual connections between concepts the adults had never considered before. For instance, one child drew a toy car that could be remotely controlled to deliver supplies to individuals in quarantine or isolation, teaching children about the importance of public health during a pandemic. Another child drew the Robot Friend Toy Car, a toy car that transforms into a friendly robot, providing companionship for lonely or isolated children.

Reflecting on the project, Sam compared these creative kids with his own children, who did not have the same experience. He realized that involving children in the project empowered them to voice their concerns and ideas, making them feel they could somehow influence the future of the company's product. It made him realize that these kids had learned a valuable lesson about dealing with uncertainty, which he wanted to pass on to his own.

PERSONAL DILEMMA: PROTECT KIDS OR TEACH THEM TO ADAPT

Initially, Sam wanted to protect his kids from the anxiety that the strategic uncertainty had caused him. However, he soon recognized the importance of teaching them how to deal with unknowns and disruption at their level, ensuring they could develop their ideas for a better future starting today. By involving children in the project, Sam empowered them and learned a valuable lesson about the importance of embracing uncertainty and creativity in the face of disruption. Sam resolved to teach foresight skills to his kids. Starting today.

The Lessons

What lessons would you take from the project if you were Sam? Check all that apply ;)

  1. Embrace uncertainty: The future is uncertain, but embracing it and preparing for different scenarios can help mitigate risks and take advantage of opportunities.
  2. Involve diverse stakeholders: Engaging diverse stakeholders, including children, can uncover new and innovative ideas that may have been overlooked.
  3. Empower creativity and innovation: Encouraging creativity and innovation can help organizations stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changing times.
  4. Focus on sustainability and social responsibility: Developing toys that promote sustainable living and social responsibility can help companies stay relevant and build a positive reputation.
  5. Embrace emerging technologies: Keeping up with emerging technologies can help companies stay ahead of the competition and provide new and innovative customer experiences.
  6. Prepare for disruptions: Disruptions can come from unexpected sources, such as pandemics, and it's important to be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances.
  7. Think long-term: Developing a long-term strategy can help organizations stay focused on their goals and adapt to changing circumstances over time.
  8. Empower future generations: Involving children in strategic planning can help empower them to become future leaders and make a positive impact on the world.
  9. Or: (fill in the blank)

Next Step

One simple way to involve kids in your organization’s future is by asking co-workers to bring their children to work for a "Kids Day" event. Take a few minutes to welcome the kids and show them your company’s purpose in the most tangible way you can imagine. Then ask them to draw their ideas on how they see your organization in the future. Turn the drawings into a ‘gallery.’ This can be a fun and engaging way to involve kids and inspire your team and everybody who sees the drawings in passing while also giving co-workers a chance to show off their work to their children.

Are you interested in teaching the kids in your life how to deal with uncertainty so that, as grown-ups, they know what to do from experience?

Check out https://www.futuristbarbara.com/kids-and-foresight for ideas.

 

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