Paradox of Group Creativity

Source: HBR, Jan 2016

Researchers have been studying creativity for more than 150 years, yet it still remains elusive. We’re not much closer to understanding what it is exactly that sparks unique ideas. One reason for this lack of insight may be that so much research has looked at the wrong things.

Until quite recently, creativity has been studied from the assumption that it is a function of particular individuals and their characteristics. Researchers have asked, “What is it about certain people that causes unique ideas to emerge from their minds?” But some students of creativity are now beginning to realize that this question ignores other critical factors that can promote or inhibit novel thought patterns that lead to unique, creative works.

… the U.S., arguably one of the most individualist countries in the world, is also the most creative in terms of patents generated, innovation, and scientific research publications. The result of individualists working within an individualist culture, then, is likely to be a high level of innovation.

brainstorming actually reduces the number of ideas a group produces when compared with the number of ideas that can be generated by those same individuals on their own.


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