The myth of the lone inventor or discoverer – the creative genius – is pervasive. But most of the hard work of creativity (yes, hard work – which I will make the subject of tomorrow’s post) is done by teams.
There are many factors that help teams work creatively, or hinder them. Another new-to-me study finds that individual personal ties strengthen team creativity. Quoting from sciencedaily.com:
A new article in Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal explores how imagination, insight, and creative ideas develop, evolve, and spread from one team member to another, ultimately increasing the team’s ability to think creatively about a range of problems.
The article highlights the fact that although creative ideas occur in the minds of individuals, and can arise in part from having personal ties to diverse others, ways of thinking about and approaching problems also can be jointly developed by the team. In essence, there is a team mindset that is greater than the sum of individual team members. When this synergistic process occurs, teams have the capacity to achieve high levels of creativity.
There is more to it, of course. Creative teams exist within a larger system, and unless the creative solutions are for the benefit of only the team, that larger system must provide support for creative output. That support might include permission, both implicit (e.g., an attitude of risk tolerance), and explicit (e.g., budgetary support); and a pathway – a systemic way by which ideas move through the acceptance process.
Still, this study provides a good starting place for thinking about how to encourage creative thinking and performance in a team. And it rings true, doesn’t it? Think of the teams of which you’ve been a part, and how one negative actor poisoned the collective mindset, and kept the group from performing to its potential. Creativity is particularly susceptible to this, because new ideas require an openness that is suppressed and condemned by negative thinkers – or by any non-supportive environment.
What is your team like? Does it support creative thought and action? Does this support make the team’s creativity flourish? If not, what can you do to change this?
Wiley-Blackwell (2008, August 7). Individual Personal Ties Strengthen Teams’ Overall Creativity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 8, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080807112603.htm
OmniSkills Course Connection: Leading Creative Teams