How do we get to groundbreaking innovation?

My research focuses on creative synergy – how to build ideas in teams that are 'more than the sum of their parts'. Creative synergy is the phenomenon by which an idea or contribution of one group member triggers an idea in another participant and so forth. The end result is an idea, that would have never been produced if the team members had worked and created ideas in isolation.

Group creativity is the cumulative creativity of all its members, plus process gains and minus process losses. Much of the previous research into group creativity, such as brainstorming has focused on the process losses - group-think, free-riding, egocentric behaviors. Creative process gains describe the phenomenon when the presence of the other group members leads to more or better ideas than the individual group members could have produced alone. Creative synergy is the most prominent gain.

As before mentioned, significant amounts of research have been dedicated to minimizing process losses, yet not too much interest has been paid to increasing process gains in the group creative process. My aim is to put a spotlight on the process gain creative synergy. From the factors known to influence creative synergy, I am especially interested in the two factors ‘attention’ and ‘ideation mode’. Optimizing these two factors could lead to improved group creativity and thereby improve organizational creativity and lead to more and better ideas.

Ideation mode describes the specific philosophy the group employs to facilitate their creative process. Of all ideation modes, ‘brainstorming’ is perhaps the best known, yet a flawed one. The aim of my research is to propose an ideation mode that maximizes creative synergy and test its effectiveness by comparing this process to a nominal idea generation in an experiment.

Organizational cultures tend to not reward creative group work but reward individual excellence. As a direct result, members of a group are motivated by individual goals and success, which will lead to behavior such as ‘saving’ their best ideas to later receive the lone credit. Through extensive expert interviews, my aim is to provide a new framework for creative groups, in which they are rewarded for cooperation, leading in turn to more collaboration and better ideas.