Black Box Thinking

Have you ever heard of “black box thinking”? 

It’s a concept that can help you improve your activities and provide better experiences for your young customers.

So, what is black box thinking? It’s a way of learning from mistakes and failures. In the aviation industry, a black box is a device that records data from a plane’s flight, including any errors or malfunctions. When something goes wrong, investigators can use the data from the black box to figure out what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

But black box thinking isn’t just for planes. It can be applied to any industry, including the children’s activity sector. When something goes wrong during an activity, it’s easy to beat ourselves up. But with black-box thinking, you can take a step back and analyse what happened objectively.

For example, let’s say you’re running a painting activity for kids. One child accidentally spills paint on another child’s shirt. You can use black-box thinking to figure out what went wrong. Maybe the paint was too close to the edge of the table, or maybe the children weren’t given clear instructions on how to handle the paint. By analysing what happened and making changes to prevent it from happening again, you can improve your activity and provide a better experience for your young customers.

Black box thinking isn’t just about fixing mistakes, it’s also about continuous improvement. By analysing what went wrong and making changes, you can make your activities even better. Maybe you’ll find a way to make your painting activity less messy, or maybe you’ll discover a new technique for teaching kids how to tie their shoes.

So, how can you apply black-box thinking to your children’s activities? Here are a few tips:

1. Encourage feedback: Ask parents and children for feedback after each activity. What did they like? What could be improved? Use this feedback to make changes and improve future activities.

2. Analyse mistakes: When something goes wrong during an activity, take a step back and analyse what happened. What could have been done differently? How can you prevent it from happening again?

3. Embrace failure: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Instead, see them as opportunities to learn and improve.

By adopting a black-box thinking approach, you can provide better experiences for your young customers and continuously improve your activities. So, next time something goes wrong, embrace black-box thinking and use it to make your activities, and your business, even better.

P.S. “Black Box Thinking” is a book written by Matthew Syed, a British journalist and author. The book explores the concept of learning from failure and the importance of adopting a mindset that embraces mistakes as opportunities for growth and improvement. Syed draws upon various industries, including aviation, healthcare, and sport, to highlight the benefits of a “black box” approach. I highly recommend checking it out. 

By becoming a member of ICAP you’re joining a community of like-minded professionals and business owners in the children’s activity sector working towards excellence

Pip Wilkins

Pip Wilkins is the Chief Executive of the British Franchise Association (bfa). With 25 years’ experience in the franchise sector, Pip has worked her way up within the Association, gaining insight from all areas of the business and the franchise industry. She is well-known and highly regarded in franchising for her dedication and depth of knowledge. Pip regularly speaks at conferences and seminars both domestically and internationally, as well as writing on franchising matters for national, local and franchising trade press. Pip is also a regular judge for the annual bfa HSBC Franchise Awards, the Franchise Marketing Awards and Global Franchise Awards. Pip represents the UK at both the European Franchise Federation (EFF) and World Franchise Council (WFC). The bfa has grown to be one of the largest franchise associations in Europe, and one of the most successful associations in the world.

Theo Millward

Theo Millward is a graduate of Lancaster University with a BBA in Management. In 2016 Theo purchased UK swim school, Swimtime from the founders which teaches 20,000 children a week. Following a multi-award- winning digital transformation, during the global pandemic, Theo and his team founded Franscape, a saas that digitally transforms Franchise brands. FranScape won New Business of the Year at the UK Business Awards.

Andy Georgiou

Andy is the Founder of ICAP and a leading UK Franchise Business Consultant. He is fiercely committed to helping children’s activity providers build successful and profitable businesses. With qualifications in Business Management, Digital Media and Marketing, he has helped build, advise and grow leading 6 and 7 fiqure children’s education, sports and activity brands in the past 17 years.

Frank Sahlein

Frank has been active in the Children’s Activity Center industry as an athlete, coach, business owner, consultant and business broker. He is a native of San Mateo, California and graduated from San Jose State University in California (USA).
Frank was a pioneer of the Children’s Learning Opportunity Center concept from 1976 – 2016 at the Wings Center in Boise, Idaho (USA) – a blend of Sports Instruction, Arts, Education, Entertainment and Outreach programs.
As a business management innovator, Frank has delivered over 1,000 presentations for a variety of Children’s Activity Center industries such as gymnastics, swimming, cheerleading, dance, martial arts/ninja and child care/education.
3rd Level Consulting is a Business Development and Service Provider Partner for private industry companies, associations, and organizations in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Panama.
Two-time recipient of the National Business Leader Award from USA Gymnastics, Frank is the author of “Building Your Business Potential” and “Designing Your Empowered Life”. He is the creator of the SmartEDGE™ Business Applications and Management Certification Courses. He is the co-founder of LEAP Learning and the MetaSpheres Corp, and is the founder and Executive Director of the International Association of Child Development Programs.
His passions include his beautiful wife Lourdes Gonzalez, family, friends, fitness training, transformational reading and travel.