This is a guest post featuring a Batterii partner, The Garage Group. The Garage Group is a new kind of strategy firm that helps brands innovate and grow like startups.

For years, The Garage Group has worked with business teams to discover insights, generate ideas from those insights, and then develop those ideas into large-scale initiatives. Recently, we were tasked with a project where we worked to gather insights from kidsessentially, the Generation Z population—those born in the 1990s to the 2010s.

We learned about how different is it to work with a team of hyper-creative, energetic young minds.

As a group, the kids we worked with were practical, savvy problem-solvers. They were eager to learn, worked well in teams and derived a lot of joy from achieving goals. However, in working with a younger population, we discovered that we had to approach our typical ideation process a bit differently. For one thing, since the group members didn’t know one another at the beginning of the session and were slow to warm up to strangers, we had to spend time facilitating connections by having children of similar age ranges sit in groups of all boys and all girls. We then alternated between group activities and individual activities to keep the connection going throughout the session. It can take more time to get kids to open up around strangers and share their ideas.

Another thing we noticed is that kids did not like (or need) to be lectured; rather, they preferred to learn by doing things themselves. We kept explanations of activities to five minutes or less, and empowered them to complete a task with just enough structure (like a simple template or labeled posterboard) to get them started. We gave each 4-5 person team a grown-up “coach,” whose role was to affirm, encourage and spur thinking.

We found that we really didn’t have to work too hard to procure insights from this group, since kids naturally create big ideas that are meant to solve some kind of challenge or problem or address an opportunity. So, to get the insights we were after, we just let the groups create ideas. We then asked them to tell us about their idea and why people (specifically, fellow peers, parents, and companies) would love it. A lot of the time, kids can’t necessarily tell you directly why they came up with the ideas they did; but if you let them create a solution, it’s usually easy to retrace their thinking and pull the “why” out of what they created.

Their answers illuminated all kinds of new insights. For example, in one activity, the participants were asked to create an ideal playground. They created trampolines, zip lines, and zero entry pools that all fed into each other! The insight here was articulated this way: “I want adventure, and I want all of my activities to seamlessly integrate with each other.”

There were several other learnings that can help us learn with kids:

  1. It struck us how easy it was for the kids in this group to practice associative thinking. In workshops, we tend to spend a lot of time teaching adult groups to form associative connections that can lead to breakthrough ideas, but Gen Z makes these connections so naturally that the group practically did the work for us. We were amazed by how quickly and effortlessly the group generated imaginative ideas from just one analog. As adults, we tend to jump to more obvious associations, but sometimes, the more outlandish and far-fetched the connection is, the better the resulting ideas can be.

  2. Kids are quick to connect ideas together while being extremely fearless. Gen Z doesn’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about the “what ifs” of an idea--they just share them readily, without too much deliberation. Although it’s obviously important to give appropriate weight to an idea, we could all probably use an extra dose of outside-the-box thinking, especially in the initial phases of ideation.

  3. The kids learned best by jumping into a project rather than talking about an idea and hypothesizing results. Sometimes, the best way to get something done is to just jump in and do it vs. spending too much time talking about it without taking action.

Learning and creating with kids is fun, educational, and is especially appropriate for certain categories and industries. We appreciated this fresh perspective on ideation and are excited to apply our learnings to more projects involving this target group.

We’re excited to continue to learn with Gen Z and see which of our discoveries above they carry with them as they mature.

About The Garage Group

The Garage Group helps corporate teams innovate and grow like startups via smart and iterative approaches to research, idea generation and development. Find more at www.thegaragegroup.com

About Batterii

Batterii’s innovation software helps modern teams work better. Batterii provides tools and space for people to collect content, form opinions and spark new ideas. For more on how Batterii can be used for research and trendspotting, insights and opportunity identification, concept development, and product and service design, please visit batterii.com. For more on Batterii’s partner program, please visit http://batterii.com/partners.html

The Need to Innovate

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