March 07, 2017
Inspiring childlike creativity
By: Gemma Cagney

In February 2017, Accenture The Dock joined Dublin Tech Summit, a two day conference in the Convention Centre filled with inspiring talks and hosting more than 10,000 attendees and 200 speakers. Whilst in attendance, I heard QuantumX & Bull in a China Shop Co-Founder, Ben Jones give his tremendously titled “Children Love Unicorns, Unicorns Love Children” talk about creative thinking. During which he discussed something that I’ve known for a while: In adulthood, a lack of creativity is a tragic unlearning of the way we intuitively think as children.

I already know this because of two things:

  1. I spent a lot of time feeling very uncomfortable outside of my comfort zone at art college.
  2. Every fortnight, I spend time with some incredibly enthusiastic and creative kids at the Silicon Docks Coder Dojo making robots, model villages and anything else their imaginations come up with.

When I put a box of materials on the table at Coder Dojo, the ninjas are grabbing things and putting them together the minute they come through the door.

By contrast, when I ran a maker event for adults back at Halloween last year I didn’t include instructions as I wanted people to explore and make what they wanted. Most attendees were not a fan of my freewheeling methods. Nobody grabbed anything without asking, nobody started to plug things in at random.

I get it, I really do. It took me a lot of blood, sweat and tears to unlearn my desire to do things the right way. But you see, the problem with looking for the right way means that you might miss all the other ways to do it.

George Land developed a creativity test for NASA’s astronauts which he described as “a test for the ability to look at a problem and come up with new, innovative and different ideas.” That line could be verbatim from the spec for any Software Development job today. Do you know who passed Land’s test at a 98 percent rate? Under 5s. And the over 30s? Only 2 percent passed.

Last week was a big week for creativity and innovation at The Dock as we launched our first Hackathon. So how can we continue to inspire childlike creativity in our work and the work of others?


The naivety of children is beautiful and a major key to their divergent thinking; whilst an adult's inner critic is tearing down ideas before they’ve had a chance to bloom, a child has made three prototypes.


Honesty is all about making the invisible visible. Our ninjas won’t hesitate to tell me they are bored; a child’s barefaced honesty can sting for a moment and then we all move on and have fun. Corporate politics can’t get in the way.


Creating a psychological space where everyone has a voice and feels listened to is no mean feat.


There is a lot to learn from observing the conviction and self-belief exhibited by young children. Whether they are conversing with unseen entities or making a break for the bathroom with a set of car keys, it never occurs to them that their friends or their missions aren’t real and important.

Be naughty with invisible friends

On the subject of invisible things, your invisible friends help you feel creative. Self-belief, feeling listened to, mindfulness, play, yoga, music … Whatever works for you, these are your team of super heroes, helping you to battle invisible villains: judgement, censorship and criticism.

Oh, and we should all laugh more.

We always welcome new ninjas at the Silicon Docks Dojo, so if you know any 7 – 17 year-olds who might be interested, send them our way. As for older creative souls, we’re hiring.

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