One Plus Zero Equals Ten: The Perspective of a Three-Year-Old
12/9/15 / Matt Bruce
At Corona, we strive to reveal the most relevant insights for our clients, and I’ve recently wondered if thinking differently will help me achieve this outcome? If thinking differently comes from being creative, then maybe I should learn from someone who is very creative – my three-year-old son. Unencumbered by experience, his imagination runs wild.
Although my son frequently expresses his creativity, it’s clear that his analytical mind is developing too. For example, he is learning simple arithmetic. From his car seat I hear him recite:
- One and one is two
- Two and one is three
- Three and one is four
His creative and analytical minds collided recently, and the result surprised me. While we were shopping for groceries, my son asked if I knew that one and zero is ten? “One plus zero is ten?” I replied with clear disbelief in my voice. He looked at me and nodded with such confidence that I knew something was up. Again he said that one and a zero is ten. I forced myself to empty my preconceptions and explore the meaning of these words from his perspective. As my brain churned, the fuzz around his logic became clearer. I realized that he was not adding the value of one and the value of zero (i.e., 1 + 0), but rather he was combining the number one with the number zero (i.e., “1” and “0” = “10”). I conceded to this simple and accurate, yet profound lesson.
As I look forward to finding creative solutions to our inevitable research challenges, I’ll remember that a useful complement to experience is fresh eyes.