➞ "The truth about creativity"
The most creative, fulfilling, and productive sessions of interaction with other human beings have been graduate classes. And not all of them. Just some classes. And not all the sessions in that class either - but every once in a while there is something that happens that is damn near magical. I’ve been in classes about, say, Civil War society, with a professor at IU that is an expert in the field. And we, about 10 phd level students, collectively came up with a new theory of interpretation that made him - us - totally rethink a particular topic. Afterward he said that though rare, that was why he taught graduate classes: it makes him a better scholar.
I think it has something to do with what Lehrer says:
As you note, researchers have shown that group collaborations benefit from debate and dissent; it is the human friction that makes the sparks. Alas, the presence of criticism means that a few people are going to get their feelings hurt. So I think one reason we’ve clung to brainstorming for decades is that it increases employee morale, even if that comes at the cost of creativity. That’s an unfortunate truth, of course, but that doesn’t make it less true. There’s a reason why Steve Jobs always insisted that new ideas required “brutal honesty.”
I think that’s the key. People argue points, but when that spark happens they are willing to modify them based on new information or better logic. It doesn’t happen often, and somehow it happens in spite of the fact that there’s a ton of ego in the room. But it works.
After reading this article, I wonder if something similar happens during improv, or perhaps a better example would be the writing room for a TV show. Can you imagine how many stupid ideas get shot down at a pitch session for The Daily Show? There’s no time to pretend as if everyone’s idea is equal and valid - which is kind of what happens in the design processes I’ve been involved with in the last three weeks.
So the question becomes: how does one facilitate a process in which the stupid ideas are called out and no one’s feelings are hurt?