Creativity – an individual act best done in groups

Groups contain a valuable mix of perspectives and a range of problem solving styles. The individuals in the group bring their own unique knowledge/skills/experiences and combine with the others to provide a vast collective pool of knowledge.  Within this pool are all potential elements of a creative idea.

An idea is a new combination of existing elements. Once shared new elements reside, however fleetingly, in the minds of those listening. A new element can be the missing ingredient or needed spark that stimulates the new idea. However, whilst the new idea may never have happened if another person hadn’t added that vital element the new idea can only ever be formed in one person’s mind.

You can only combine/synthesize/associate two things you are aware of. The benefit of working in groups is in their ability to stimulate new ideas in individuals. The final act of creativity has to be an individual one.

Would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this.

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3 comments on “Creativity – an individual act best done in groups
  1. Actually, I would argue that most creativity that has lead to innovation is the result of group creativity rather than individual creativity.

    Einstein, contrary to popular opinion, was not working alone on his theories of relativity. He was building upon the work of many scientists an corresponding with a lot of people as he developed the theories.

    Steve Jobs did not, of course, spec the iPhone and iPod himself. Rather Apple put together creative teams that collaborated creatively to conceive and specify these innovative products.

    Most ad agencies and design shops use creative teams to develop adverts, products, etc.

    However, all teams are not necessarily creative. Indeed, getting teams to collaborate creatively can be something of a creative challenge in itself. A team can as readily become an idea stifling committee as easily as it can become a rapid idea generation force. The challenge team leaders, creativity consultants and others face is turning teams into the latter rather than the former!

    Meanwhile, Greavsie, let’s see some more posts on this excellent blog of yours!!!

    Jeffrey Baumgartner

    • theideahunter says:

      I would alter your opening sentence to “most creativity that has lead to innovation is the result of group collaboration facilitating a series of iterative individual creativity.

      Whilst opening myself up to charges of pedantry I think that the conception of a new idea can only take place in one person’s head. Within a group this may prompt the next iteration in the idea’s development to take place in someone else’s head and so on. “Group creativity” as a series of individual creative thoughts.

      The finished idea may well have been a result of the group’s combined knowledge and problem solving skills but is still dependent on individual creativity.

      Obviously, once we move into the implementation stage then it does become a group activity. Although, I’m sure there are exceptions that exist somewhere.

  2. G says:

    Trust you are well after all these years…
    While there are undoubtedly isolated incidents of individual genius, I would agree with you that most creative thoughts (certainly my own) are the result of cultivating/developing/augmenting ideas generated by others (who themselves have probably developed ideas, etc, etc). Whether the individuals concerned constitute a group is I believe a moot point, sometimes they may fall within such a definition, sometimes not. I will also accept any resulting charges of pedantry.

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