We’ve constructed a themed matrix (diagram below) in which we are collectively exploring 60 permutations of the concept of ‘collective creativity.’
The aim is to create a large and contiguous description of our experiences in Dalian in relation to the creative process, so that we can connect the dots between them and edit it into the u.lab book this semester.
Collective creativity describes a creative format where methods of collaboration, socialisation, crowd-sourcing and shared experience are the key drivers of the innovation process. It is a form of socially driven innovation. u.lab is on a mission to experiment and lead in this area of innovation.
This week in Dalian, we are testing how three Factors influence collective creativity: Intensity, Diversity, and State-change. Each day, your blog posts will refer directly to one of the 60 cells in the Matrix which address these three Factors.
When we work in teams towards a creative goal, the chemistry, behaviours and atmosphere of the team often shape the outcomes. Factors such as speed of collaboration, increased working time together, increased difficulty in challenge, language barriers, and brevity of the time for working on a challenge, can heighten the intensity of collaboration, the quality of ideas and how those ideas are represented. Likewise, when we work in intensive collaborative scenarios, communication takes on a whole new character. The compactness and frequency of tasks, amplified by the continuity of face-to-face interactions can also enhance communication and idea generation.
Teams are made up of individuals but work together as a collective. Factors such as life background, disciplinary skills, natural talents, culture, gender, language, age and ethnicity all contribute to the diversity of a team. Members in a team bring a diverse language of representation to any collaboration. Formal training, disciplinary thinking styles, and cultural paradigms can shape how ideas are conceived and represented. The way we come up with ideas also can be a product of our cultural background or formal disciplinary training. Many studies show that diversity in teams influences the creativity and originality of ideas. How do factors such as linguistic, ethnic, professional, or cultural diversity influence the rate, variety and quality of ideas in your team?
Moving between mental states can shape how we see the world. Likewise, changing location, culture and collaborators can shift our state of creative productivity. When we move from play to thinking, from inside to outside, from language to image, from Sydney to Dalian, from West to East, we can generate new perspectives on a problem. When we create ideas, we are in a particular mental state. As a result, the ideas are often framed by the lens of that state. If we move between states, we can expand the range and depth of ideas generated. Sometimes, the best ideas come when we are in a removed state, “in the shower” or “taking a walk with the dog.”
There are four Themes running across the five days of the workshop. Each day, you’ll write a response to a question that is situated in one of the Theme streams. These themes represent four of the major areas of inquiry into collective creativity. They are: Teamwork, Communication, Representation, and Ideation.
- Teamwork is the cooperation of diverse individuals towards a common goal. Teamwork is mutually beneficial; it is cooperation that is complementary. Good teamwork is distributed intelligence at its best.
- Communication between design collaborators occurs in many ways – spoken, gestures, drawing, multimedia, model-making, role-playing, writing, and so on. Communication between participants allows for ideas to be shared and to grow. In the context of this blog, communication means person-to-person communication.
- The representation of ideas is an important tool for shifting between abstract concepts and concrete realities. Representation can take many forms – diagrammatic, visual, written, photographic, collage, montage, drawing, acting, and so on. In the context of this blog, representation means the depiction or description of abstract ideas so as to enable clarification and the communication of them to others.
- Ideation is the forming of emergent ideas and the creation of new ideas. In collaborative design, ideation is an open process involving the generation of many solutions for a challenge, or some part of a challenge. Ideation can happen in numerous forms – through conversation (“throwing ideas around”), through brainstorming, through diagramming, or through structured exercises such as random association. In the context of this blog, ideation means any processes of idea-forming, idea-generation and idea-selection.