7 lessons from small kids on big business

Today the kids were over from the neighbourhood and since we are the only house that has a shed, it was declared that they were commandeering it as their clubhouse. As I watched this bunch of scruffy intrepid 8-11 year old boys in action, I marvelled at how they operated and took away some observations that are useful in any business.

  1. Get rid of stuff you don't need and organise.

  • Amazingly they were able to organise my shed full of tools, boxes, discarded relics in an hour. Something I had been planning to do for a year! Tools etc were moved to the side and stacked and bikes were taken out and moved to a different location. All this left them half of the shed for their table and “chairs” plus some space for their stuff.

  1. Everyone has a seat.

  • This apparently is very important when you are a kid and symbolically it is just as important as an adult. Even if the chair is an upturned bucket, you still had a seat at the table.

  1. Be clear on the type of people you want in your club house and why.

  • The sign “NO GIRLS allowed” was very clear on the criteria required and the reasons - they are boys so you can guess the reasons - they had them. Discrimination will be dealt with later by the possible uprising of the sisters in the neighbourhood.

  1. Do things together.

  • They had meetings and lunches. They played games. They listened to music. They made plans. They did all these together and they all contributed to the clubhouse in their own way (mainly by way of food or drink).

  1. Hierarchy is natural and an informal structure will happen. It is hardwired.

  • Cultural norms exist even in a kids clubhouse. Nothing was written down and no organisational chart existed on Powerpoint but the structure was there. Interestingly the structure was much more fluid than in business and changed based on the situation and who was the best at it. There was no Lord of the Flies reincarnation as yet, just strengths based hierarchy in action.

  1. Change is inevitable.

  • Something will happen to change the dynamic and they need to adapt such as the pet dog being brought in as the mascot. They hashed it out, loudly in some cases and sorted it out. The dog stayed and then the dog left of its own accord.

  1. Purpose binds us

  • The part I loved was the bonding between them through a shared sense of purpose. You could hear it in their language. They used words like “OUR clubhouse”, “WE”, and “LET’S” often.

Love my kids and watching them grow - the lessons they remind us of in their simple games are ones to take heed of when we get lost in the complexity of our businesses.

The best part about this was that I had peace and quiet for the whole afternoon.

Long may it last!

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