Wednesday, September 11, 2013

10 Ways to Improve Group Creativity

The previous post introduced the subject of creativity within an organizational setting. Early innovators in business can force competitors into a structural dependency and thereby achieve a long term “architectural advantage.[1]” Therefore, the production of novel and useful products or services is an important concern for any business.

Brainstorming in Groups is Less Effective
Our last post focused on brainstorming sessions, the most common idea generation technique organizations use. Researcher Leigh Thompson (among others) gives a scathing appraisal of the effectiveness of group brainstorming sessions.[2] A summary of studies show that conventional face-to-face brainstorming groups generate fewer ideas than the same number of members working individually.[3] The previous post detailed four creativity killing culprits to group brainstorming; downward social conformity, norm setting, conformity, and production blocking. These culprits cause group members to feel inhibitions, anxiety, self-presentational concerns, and to conform to each other’s ideas and rates of idea generation.[4] The net result is less ideas generated.[5] This is disastrous to innovation because the probability of have one truly excellent idea is predicted by the number of ideas generated.[6]

We Are Blind to the Ineffectiveness of Group Brainstorming
It gets even worse. Not only is brainstorming in groups ineffective, it also gives group members the faulty perception of productivity.[7] Thompson dubs this effect the faulty-performance illusion.[8] Interactive brainstorming teams feel over-confident about their productivity; ironically, even more so than the superior individual brainstormer.[9]
Strategies to Improve Creativity in Group Brainstorming
Thompson synthesizes numerous strategies to improve creativity in group brainstorming. These strategies are:[10]
  1. Diversifying the team
  2. Analogical Reasoning
  3. Brainwriting
  4. Nominal Group Technique
  5. Creating organizational memory
  6. Trained facilitators 
  7. High benchmarks
  8. Membership change
  9. Electronic brainstorming
  10. Creating a playground 
We will focus on three particular strategies; brainwriting, nominal group technique, and using trained facilitators.

Brainwriting is the process of group members writing down their idea quietly during a brain-storming session.[11]
Nominal Group Technique
Nominal Group Technique is merely a method of brainwriting where members start brainstorming sessions by first brainwriting, and then sharing their ideas among the group.[12]
Trained Facilitators
A trained facilitator guides teams in their brainstorming session. They are responsible for activities such as jotting down the ideas, structuring the interactions, and encouraging active participation. Several studies find that groups with actively participating trained facilitators produce significantly more ideas that those without one.[13]
We will continue to discuss these and other strategies for improving creativity in group brainstorming sessions.

[1] See Generally, Michael G. Jacobides, Thorbjørn Knudsen, and Mie Augier, Benefiting From Innovation: Value Creation, Value Appropriation and the Role of Industry Architectures, Research Policy 35.8 (2006), 1200-1221.
[2] See Generally, Leigh Thompson, Improving the Creativity of Organizational Work Groups, Academy of Management Executive Vol. 17. No. 1 (2003).
[3] Paul B. Paulus, Karen Van der Zee, Should There be a Romance between Teams and Groups?, Journal of Occupational Psychology Vol. 77 (2004), 476.
[4] See Thompson, supra note 2, at 102.
[5] Id.
[6] See Generally Paul B. Paulus, Nicholas W. Kohn, and Lauren E. Arditti, Effects of Quantity and Quality instructions on Brainstorming, The Journal of Creative Behavior (2011).
[7] See Thompson, supra note 2, at 102.
[8] Id.
[9] See Paulus, supra note 3.
[10] See Thompson, supra note 2, at 107 (table).
[11] Id. at 103.
[12] Id. at 104.
[13] Id. at 105.

No comments:

Post a Comment