Youth Creativity and Innovation: Learning to Let Go…

Potato people

How an interactive story told through social media taught us to let youth creativity off the leash…

Working to encourage creativity and innovation amongst young people is frequently inspiring and often equally frustrating. Most of that frustration is aimed solely at ourselves for occasionally slipping into the trap of unwittingly projecting our ingrained ways of thinking upon them.

It’s a never ending battle to accept that young people’s creative ideas are usually quite different from our expectations and sometimes make little sense to us. What can look like a bad idea in our industry-formed frame of reference could well be a great idea for a new generation.

If we teach our young people to think exactly like us, how are we expecting innovation to occur?

With the young creative thinkers we work with on a daily basis through The Bigger Idea, we’re learning to let go.

On a recent transmedia project we wanted to experiment with interactive stories told through various social media. Twelve young people, who lived across the country and had never met in real life, each created characters to take part.

At first we began to develop a script for the characters but a meeting with Gav Rowe from Big Balls Films changed our thinking completely. Big Balls Films received two BAFTA nominations for the social media drama they created called Kate Modern and their advice proved invaluable.

Gav’s advice was to give the characters a starting point, a common goal, and leave the rest up to the young people in control of the characters. Letting go in this way enabled the characters to interact in a far more natural and spontaneous way, taking the story to a surprising conclusion involving mysterious cults and ancient Egyptian Gods.

Providing an experienced support structure and building confidence in young people is critical for encouraging creativity and innovation. But we also need to have the confidence ourselves that given the right opportunity and left to develop their own ideas, young people will find ways to surpass us and do things better.

Photo (cc) Maurits Burgers