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The role of your peers in creativity

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The role of your peers in creativity

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In this era of social collaboration it is almost a given that the collective plays a major role in our creativity and innovation.  The popularity of collaboration at the moment suggests that the group is always beneficial.  Of course, you’re all smart folks so you know better than that.  You know that collaboration for the sake of collaboration is often worse than none at all.

Suffice to say however, a greater understanding of how groups influence our creativity is always valuable, so I’d like to present a new study from the University of Queensland that looked at the important role groups play in creativity.

“Shared group membership provides a basis for certain forms of originality to be recognised, or disregarded,” said Dr Haslam, who collaborated with international colleagues on a paper published recently in the Personality and Social Psychology Review.

“Our research supports the argument that geniuses and creative people are very much products of the groups and societies within which they are located.”

The researchers conducted a number of experiments over a decade, in which they wanted to explore the heuristic that creative people are lone wolves that buck trends and go against the grain.

They believe that group identity remains fundamental to any notion of creativity.  This group both provides a nurturing environment for creativity and also the audience for it.

Even those that strive to break free from norms or conventions still require the presence of a group to provide their creativity with its sense of identity.  You can’t rebel if you have nothing to rebel against.  What’s more, the value of the creativity is often determined by whether it has been accepted (or not) by the group itself.

“For the creativity of individual creators to be celebrated, and to make a difference in the world, it has to be enthusiastically embraced by others,” they said.

So, if you want your employees to be creative, you need to invest in the groups and interactions that allow their ideas to be taken seriously.  You can’t just hope that the magic will happen out of blood, sweat and tears.

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