Research constantly shows that people working individually come up with more ideas than when working in groups. So why are we always striving to get the best out of teams – why don’t we just separate everyone off into little private working areas and leave them to it? It would create a pretty unsociable and tedious working environment although we might get a lot of ideas for a while before everyone went doollaly with their own company.
The problem is that we put teams together to find the solution to problems. What we should be doing is turning this on its head. An example: A practice meeting at a doctor’s surgery aimed at improving the patient experience. Instead of asking, how can we make things better, ask ‘how can we make things really uncomfortable and unpleasant for our patients?’ Suggestions could include: reduce the number of chairs in the waiting room; do away with parking spaces; make checking in difficult by only having one receptionist; ensure the phone is not answered until it has rung 20 times. For every difficulty thus created, get the team to find the opposite. So…..create more seating in the waiting room, address any parking shortages creatively, consider computerised check-in, put the phones on automatic answer if the receptionists are busy with a lovely polite message and a call-back option.
Genrich Altschuller had a Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (sounds great!) created from researching loads of inventions and the process in their creation. He found that innovations used scientific effects outside the field of their own development. So if we break down successful products or inventions into their separate components we can use these as ‘pre-inventive’ ideas with which to create new innovations.
Getting away from the technical and back to the teamwork, if you put people together working dynamically, distinctly and using their different knowledges and expertise to explore the component parts of an issue, you can get some really fabulous collaborative and innovative work.
“Creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working together to solve a great many problems,” he writes. “Creativity must be present at every level of every artistic and technical part of the organization.” Ed Catmull – President Pixar and Disney Animations.
Come visit Yourcoaching to get some good ideas.