3 Contrary Ideas about Creativity and Collaboration for NPD

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Something from Nothing – No Collaborators Need Apply!

Collaboration and creativity are at odds when you are making something new from nothing. Much has been written lately about the importance of creativity in corporate life.  Silicon Valley has always valued a creative process that is collaborative and inclusive.  The key is to understand that creativity must proceed collaboration for new endeavors.

  • The New Groupthink

Group work areas are prolific in startup accelerators, elementary schools and colleges.  It creates the opposite of a creative environment. In a New York Times op-ed, Susan Cain referred to the trend of hyper-collaboration as The New Groupthink. “Culturally, we’re often so dazzled by charisma that we overlook the quiet part of the creative process,” she wrote. “Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption.”

  • Creativity is an Individual Sport

In the arts, the most compelling creations are usually the work of one or two people making something that is personal, has a point of view and, as a result, presents to the audience as a specific reality.  This is most true for companies and software products that are created from nothing.  Like being born or dying, the act of turning an idea into a reality is something only you can do.  Whether that reality is a page of written dialogue, a sort algorithm, or a new car, it is highly personal.

  • Creativity Requires Solitude and Silence

When I worked at Microsoft, everyone got their own office.  This was to provide the solitude software developers need to work and keep hard problems in their heads.  Even in the highly collaborative world of Open Source Software, periods of individual work are punctuated by periods of collaboration.

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