Exploring and Developing Creativity: TC on creativity and youthwork

Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them

Albert Einstein

Why does making mistakes strengthens youngsters’ chances on the job market? Why did Microsoft and Apple introduced compulsory workshops on juggling? And why is it worth to learn from them?

From the 16th to the 24th of February, 2014 27 youthworkers from Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Romania and the United Kingdom met in Berlin to discuss these questions and develop tools for creative capacity building.

Youth unemployment remains a pressing pan-European issue. With a large percentage of young Europeans without work, lacking clear future perspectives, means that new strategies to increase their employability in the competitive job market need to be developed. Innovative thinking, creative problem solving and breaking traditional thought patterns are tried and tested methods which help people to look ‘outside the box’, thereby generating previously unthought of solutions to embedded organisational issues as well as stimulating initiative and encouraging entrepreneurship.

But how can people actually apply ‘creativity’ to real world situations? There are few better ways to understand such abstract concepts than by trying them out and experiencing them from a practical point of view. This pragmatic approach was an integral part of the week’s programme. Several activities that the participants took part in were designed to prototype creative thinking techniques and explore alternative perspectives and methods which could then be used in their everyday working environment.

The Marshmallow Challenge is one example. This is a fun and instructive design exercise that encourages teams to develop collaboration, innovation and creativity. It can be used as a technique for improving a team’s capacity to generate fresh ideas and give them a reference to reflect on techniques for generating effective innovation.

The task is simple: in eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.

The Ted Talk below provides interesting and relevant insights into the mental processes behind the activity and gives a surprising answer to the intriguing question of ‘which groups always beat the average?’.

Why not try it out in your working environment? You may be pleasantly surprised by the results!Discover your potential!