Thinking outside the (toy) box
Creativity can be difficult to define, but you can be sure that doing the same thing in the same way will almost certainly end up with the same result. Creativity is about doing things differently. 44’s Sarah Woods explains how her children’s plastic dinosaurs changed the way she thinks about the creative process…
We’ve all been there. You’ve got a night out planned, but making mini moustaches for your dinosaurs is taking a lot longer than expected, so now you’ll have to give it a miss.
Happens to the best of us.
Strangely enough, this was actually a real scenario for me a couple of years ago. If you’ve ever heard of Dinovember, then it might make a bit more sense – it’s basically the dinosaur-lovers’ equivalent of Elf on the Shelf. And if you haven’t heard of that either, then let me enlighten you…
Back in 2012, Refe and Susan Tuma created Dinovember and showed us all how to parent like a pro.
Every night during the month of November, their children’s plastic dinosaurs ‘came to life’ and wreaked havoc round the house. In the morning their kids would wake up to a new day of dino disasters.
Described as “a month-long imagination invasion” – it caught on – and now, every November, die-hard fans take part in their own month of mayhem. ‘How hard could it be?’ I thought…
Turns out that creating different dino misdeeds every night for a whole month is actually quite challenging. But during that month I learned a lot about creativity and had a lot of fun along the way. In fact, the dinosaurs made such an impact that they returned in our house the following two years as well…
So, here are a few things that the dinosaurs taught me.
What started out as something fairly simple, quickly became more and more elaborate. A few scattered cornflakes just wouldn’t cut it. I created costumes and props and sometimes spent hours setting the scene – I thought nothing of bringing in a pile of sand and dumping it on the dining room table so that the dinos could have a day at the beach.
Once I started and saw my children’s reactions and experienced the kick of creating, I wanted to make each day better than the one before. At times it was exhausting, but creativity isn’t something you can exhaust – if anything it grows!
Over the course of three years I covered everything from extreme sports to popular culture and literary classics, but without a doubt, the pinnacle for me was creating a music video to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.
I had absolutely no experience filming, directing or editing a music video – but what did I have to lose other than a night’s sleep. And anyone who has kids knows that sleep is for the weak.
You can judge for yourself how successful it was*. And while it’s definitely not about to win any awards, for my children it was pretty show stopping.
Occasionally, creativity comes in the form of an out-of-the-blue eureka moment, but in my experience, it usually involves planning, adjustment, rethinking, refining and quite a bit of hard work. Mainly it involves being prepared to try.
In the pursuit of creating something a bit special, you will also probably make mistakes.
The footprint-shaped patches of missing paint on our ceiling were testament to one particular epic fail. But that’s where being flexible comes in. If the adrenaline-loving dinosaurs couldn’t be suspended from the ceiling then they could abseil instead.
True creativity often involves trying something new and being prepared to fail. The trouble is, the workplace isn’t always conducive to this. By allowing more time for collaboration and encouraging a culture where mistakes aren’t viewed as a failure, the next step to a solution means that people will be happier to think big.
CBeebies didn’t get a look in during November, because once my children had discovered the dinosaurs, they were well and truly engaged. Whatever scenario I had set up they would run with. It completely captured their imaginations.
But it wasn’t just my kids that got involved. I posted daily updates on Facebook and my family and friends quickly became fans too. People that I hadn’t spoken to in years would comment on pictures and ask what the prehistoric pranksters were up to next.
There’s something about the creation of the unexpected and slightly subversive that seems to really appeal to people. As king of the creative covert-op, Banksy knows how to grab people’s attention. His art often takes creativity to the next level and while some might dismiss his work as over-simplistic, the fact that his Balloon Girl mural was voted the nation’s favourite piece of art back in 2017 shows how much of an impact he has made.
Albert Einstein said it best: “Creativity is intelligence having fun”. While I can’t claim that the dinos’ misdemeanours required as much intelligence as the theory of relativity – I still like to think that Einstein would have approved.
Even now, years later, my kids still say “do you remember when the dinos smashed a bowl/drew on your face/did the X-tinct Factor/flew in a hot air balloon?” And I do.
Creative experiences are often the most memorable. Which is why the value of creativity shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to engaging your employees.
So, whether you want help with a creative campaign, some imaginative insights, an unforgettable employee experience or even just some mini moustaches – we have the right people for the job.
* We have professional videographers here at 44 who know better than to let me near a camera.