Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?




Have you ever watched the TV show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Adults subject themselves to humiliation – demonstrating how their intelligence – measured by their ability to answer questions on a variety of topics, does not match that of a group of 5th graders.  Well, last Saturday I witnessed something even far more powerful and eye opening.

Last Saturday Dan Keldsen and I attended the New Hampshire State Tournament for Destination ImagiNation (DI).  I love and am inspired by this organization, but I have to say I do not like their name. There is far more than “imagination” going on. This is not just dreaming and imagining – its real problem solving and engineering. (Note the picture to the right – taken at the event.) What is most amazing is that the people behind all this “imagination,” problem solving and engineering are children, affectionately known as “DI kids”, in grades K – 5 (and beyond in some cases).

Its inspiring to watch the kids solve complex problems, building any number of contraptions and solutions using amazing levels of perseverance, ingenuity and problem solving. My favorite part was watching teams set up their “solutions” only to find something had gone wrong. The agility with which they came up with “fixes” was inspiring to say the least.

But, while inspiring, it is also frustrating.

Why? Because you cannot help but wonder why this level of creative problem solving, ingenuity, and innovation (right – not imagination) is lacking in many business settings.

I have to admit that I attended the NH tournament for a selfish reason.

The DI program is the foundation and genesis of the DICor corporate innovation training that I took, and that IAI is certified to provide.

I was there to promote the corporate innovation workshop to the parents of these brilliant innovators. I am always amazed how adults, business people, even those that are raising brilliant innovators, are often hesitant to embrace innovation – especially being trained to be a better innovator.

Before I took the DiCOR worshop, I too was a skeptic.

Innovation – that is a skill set you are either born with or not. Right?

You cannot really practice it and fine tune the talents you have – the way you would a musical instrument, a sport, or a foreign language.

Boy was I wrong.

We have had some great successes in training other adults on how to be as “smart as a 5th grader.”

The workshop includes many hands-on challenges. I have yet to see an adult team beat the records held by the DI crowd (of kids), but they come close.  More importantly, the “adult challenges” set in business issues always clearly illustrate that the application of some simple tools and a mental discipline can radically improve practical creative problem solving.

So come on – I challenge you and your co-workers. It’s the year 2010… Are you smarter than a 5th grader?  The innovation workshop is guaranteed to improve your problem solving skills and meeting productivity by a minimum of 25% – what have you got to lose except maybe a bit of pride?

(BTW – an average of 20% of the cost of the Innovation Workshop is given to DI to support the kids program of the non-profit organization – any way you look at it, it’s win-win for the current generation *and* the next generation)

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