From the monthly archives: May 2012

Interdisciplinary teams and behavior

We live in a world in constant evolution and with a significant variation in what are key skills to work in teams and systems.

When organizations want to create work teams, they use, in first place, internal resources and seek to equip their employees with the skills to lead their organizations to success.

The skills and abilities that are required today to employees of organizations include the ability to create networks, ability to evolve with new technologies, multilingual domain, cultural sensitivity, ethical behavior, critical thinking and creative problem-solving ability, among others.

Many times, so that organizations can build representative work teams of a diversity that complements each other through the competences referred, it is necessary to recruit their (future) employees, not exclusively on the basis of analytical criteria, but also selecting people who are more prone to creativity and who have certain sets of relevant knowledge and skills for innovation.

When enabling the diversity of skills and disciplines of its members, organizations build interdisciplinary teams that favor the development of an innovation culture.

There is an advantage in interdisciplinary teams that is worth highlighting, and that results from  the generalist skills of team members , when they have the possibility to discuss third-party interventions in its areas of expertise.

Interdisciplinary teams can be seen as ensembles, which develop environments that:

-Allow opening the new challenges and promotes creative questions.

-Allow us to think about the unthinkable and promotes the perspective of contrast.

-Pave the way for daring, for trusting and favor dialogue.

A culture of innovation is developed in confidence and boldness environments despite often also being constrained environments.

As a result of the relationship developed into interdisciplinary teams, learned behaviors are a fundamental difference that they manifest when we talk about a culture of innovation within organizations.

This culture is lived with passion that is fed with the celebration of ideas of all team members who develop autonomy. There failure is not punished and diversity is maximized.

Let’s see what can be a small example:

“Once people have succeeded at a game-changing innovation, the level of energy in the company elevates. Even people who weren’t directly involved are affected through the social networks. It becomes easier for them to expand their idea of what is feasible. Building this sort of capability often has the rhythm of, say, skilled basketball practice: a group of people who gradually learn seamless teamwork, reading one another’s intentions and learning to complement other team members, ultimately creating their own characteristic, effective, and uncopyable style of successful play” – A. G. Lafley

This could be something called pollination of ideas or the “ability to make connections between seemingly unconnected things” that Scott Anthony referred and which translates into four approaches that successful innovators follow:

– “Questioning: Asking probing questions that impose or remove constraints.

– Networking: Interacting with people from different backgrounds who provide access to new ways of thinking.

– Observing: Watching the world around them for surprising stimuli.

– Experimenting: Consciously complicating their lives by trying new things or going to new places.”

These findings mentioned by Scott Anthony may mean that the interdisciplinary teams, when they live a culture of innovation, are the favorable conditions for the development of an innovative activity.

However we know that action requires energy and innovative interdisciplinary teams, to develop with success their goals, also require fuel that leverage creativity and innovation.

Daniel Pink on Drive suggests that one of the incentives that we can “create” for people is a sense of autonomy, which allows them to dominate their work, and create a sense of purpose.

Rewards and recognition, especially the balance between intrinsic and extrinsic incentives, influence the way the employees of organizations deal with their responsibilities.

The opportunity to be part of a real world, where each one of us, in its area of expertise, can contribute collaboratively for a common result, is something that organizations should seek to create to provide their real and sustainable development.

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This article was originally published at OPENMIND BLOG as

Interdisciplinary teams and innovation: questioning, networking, observing and experimenting


If I knew, I …!

There are things that cause amazement, and there are others that seem to be part of naturalness and normalcy of a large number of people.

For example, it wouldn’t cause amazement that many people consume their time talking about brilliant stuff worthless or trifles and do not seek to clarify ideas or the most relevant aspects of the themes of the conversations in which they participate.

It seems that there is a tendency to consume time without the worry of finding something that makes sense in the conversation.

But I am surprised that some (many) people did not become fully aware of our need for a lifelong learning and also that they are not aware that yesterday’s skills are not necessarily the competences of the future, especially when the environment is the work.

Our ability to determine the deeper meaning or importance of what is being expressed at a given moment is one of the most important skills for the future labor forces.

But, if to be able to find the true meaning of things is important, it is also true that the leadership, building teams (not the formation of groups) and especially creativity are competences of the future that surely will not be part of the “profile of intelligent machines”.

There are many tasks and even “functions” that can be occupied by “intelligent machines”, as for example the routine work in manufacturing and services, but it won’t be as easy to accept that the machines will in future compete for places that require skills that allow to find meaning in things or allow to make critical readings for decision-making.

Critical thinking is a skill that the future will require and it is important to get right now to capitalize.

This means that we cannot make use of the knowledge that we are integrating lifelong learning without it first makes sense in our mind. It is important to find relevant information to increase our critical capacity.

When we draw pieces of information that seem relevant according to the context in which we operate, and it is very important to the contextualization of information, we can create something new that can be interpreted.

In fact what we need is to process this information, reading and ideas so that they combine into something more useful or more significantly stay together.

When we want to build something that is a reality in the future, we need to understand how people think today “and also seeking to understand how they are going to think about the future “.

A projection is not something that necessarily makes sense if we ignore the reality of the experience of the individual. It is a future thinking that produces scenarios where we imagine speculative alternatives.

We can design around a reality toward a desired future state, but let us not forget that the real worlds of the people are a mix of family, work, personal goals, immediate needs, uncertainties, etc.

Today, with advances in technology and with the instruments at our disposal, we expand the context of our interaction we connect with a wide range of people from different disciplines and can collaborate with the goal of creating something new and with value.

Truly collaborative processes embrace different points of view, even those that are conflicting, allowing their merger and creating something new and never before imagined.

Today and tomorrow our need to collaborate will be constant and so I leave a reflection point, citing Jamais Cascio:

“Focusing only the challenges of the present may seem imperative, especially when those challenges are massive and frightening. But without a sense of what’s next, a capacity for understanding connections and horizons, and a vision of what kind of world we want, our efforts to deal with today’s problems will inevitably leave us weakened, vulnerable, and blind to challenges to come.”

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This post is inspired in an old one from this blog!


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Making choices in organizations is not always the best way

The ability to use empathy in the context of problem solving or satisfaction of needs of people can carry us up to design thinking.

But how do we define a problem is the most important element for trying to solve and to achieve advances in design thinking!

The problems are always linked to a social system that is a complex set of interacting human relationships in many ways. For example, in an organization, the social system comprises all persons working for it, its partners, customers and other external bodies, as well as the relationships between them all.

An organization must be receptive and be committed to the changes that arrive from outside, but this implies often a huge capacity to solve problems, because the behavior of a system member, has influence to a greater or lesser extent, in the performance of the organization.

This is also why the boundaries of a social system are difficult to determine given the trade generated by all individuals or groups. The culture of an organization is part of a larger system, which is the society where this organization develops its activity.

Marty Neumeier said “design is rapidly moving from poster and toasters to include processes, systems and organizations”.

That is, design thinking in organizations, no longer refers only to a product or service, but rather to the projection of a user or customer in the various subsystems in which they are inserted.

This leads us to think about problems and culture of innovation in organizations and somehow also about the impact that design thinking can have in organizations.

If on the one hand it seems to be true that people depend on the culture, since this gives them stability, security, understanding and the ability to respond to a particular situation, on the other hand, people react to change because they fear insecurity.

Then when trying to reconcile these two situations we note that the definition of the problem requires a very specific architecture.

We are talking about the organizational structure and culture of the organizations, about communication and workflows and about business strategies. If we want to avoid frustration when we pursue the idea of a business or organization guided by design thinking we have to think about transparency, better performing and in trust.

We know that the elements of an organization have a constant fear that the system becomes unstable; they fear that their security is compromised and won’t understand a new process nor do they know how to respond to new situations, when they are targeted by a design thinking approach.

It is not a question of observe and gather information about a consumer product, even if this definition of the problem is people-centric. It’s about to define the problem in terms of behaviors of the various systems and of their relations.

“When I get invited by CEOs to talk about integrating design thinking into their organizations, they listen attentively. As they understand what it is, the cautious ones argue that the core of their business is just too important to expose it to the risks of design — and maybe we could experiment with design in some minor part of the business off to the side. My response, typically, is to argue that the core is the most critical place for utilizing design thinking in order to save the core — and their whole business — from the inevitable poor consequences of exploiting the current rather than exploring what might be. But that argument rarely works.” – Roger Martin

To overcome that fear, the first step that the leaders and managers must give, is try to understand the differences between how they walk in business and the prospects of designers about, how to solve problems.

Business decision makers tend to follow a very analytical process, making decisions by understanding all the options available, which entails time consumption and a difficult management of information deemed relevant. The desired analytical rigor is indeed only true if the information is relevant and acceptable in the decision-making process.

Design thinking points the construction of prototypes and interaction of ideas as a way to learn. Synthesize the interdisciplinary information and develop concepts that can be translated into further steps of action. When we embrace constraints, the rules are constraints, we show the evolution of work through design.

When we discuss the question of decision-making or choice of possible alternatives it is important not to allow ourselves to be reduced to the analytical “old school”.

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Observation to adapt

It is not uncommon the admiration we have with very different paths which many thinkers have taken to arrive at similar conclusions.

We were educated to recognize the authority of knowledge on those who by their name or with their writing were considered models and sages. This helped us to build within us a very own respect that prevented a certain boldness on our part, to build knowledge from other sources.

We underestimate our ability to make important discoveries, including the discovery of ourselves.

Along our growth we were surprised with transformations that were not taught but that have something very beautiful.

Despite this, we get distracted with awesome and amazing things created or submitted by some of the others and forget to be children, losing much of our curiosity.

The discovery of ourselves is done looking for inside us, and watching at the same time the behavior of our surroundings. This way we know what is expected of us, we compare our attitudes and behaviors with those of the other members of our ecosystem and we see what kind of relationships or connections have established or can establish.

Basically, we spent our day to day practice note.

But after all, what is the importance of our own observations?

With a little humility we quickly recognize that we are not recognized authorities in the field of “observation” as a discipline of knowledge. May be we have not read enough nor wrote the great books and despite everything resides in us a huge potential.

What we know of important?

We know what else nobody can know, because we use our senses as information gatherers and our way of thinking as meaning converter.

It is a very specific knowledge that sometimes, by being different, is presented as something new and of value, and this is because the usual way, as we see the events, has to do with our knowledge and our beliefs.

To observe, we use one or more of your senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, to collect evidence or data.

In a conscious way, we want the observations we make is accurate and objective and avoid contamination with opinions and prejudices that are based on certain subjective viewpoints or experiences.

The observation when used with the purpose of knowing the real need of others in order to create solutions that satisfy their needs requires a constant empathetic attitude.

To observe the behavior of individuals in their environment to understand interaction person/environment is one of the best ways to start a desirable process of change.

The change in always entails an acceptance more or less difficult when this change does not arise on its own initiative, that is, to leave the comfort zone without resistance people have to seek a greater comfort.

I think that if people cannot follow the principle of pleasure, and the reality they require an effort, they will spend the least possible effort.

So in order to reduce the resistance to change we have to observe the daily life of people and analyze the interactions that people do with your environment and determine which intensity thresholds of change that we think will be acceptable.

To observe people’s needs is not restricted to the identification of missing products or services, is also looking at the behavior of people when they interact with their environment, and the only way to get a result that satisfies our intentions is creating empathy with people who we are watching.

To facilitate the observation of those interactions, questionnaires and informal conversations or even watching frameworks with relevant items may not be sufficient.

Grasp the information transmitted with the aid of new technology, videos and any other type of records becomes crucial for obtaining good results, because this allows the preservation of natural environments, i.e. not filtered by our intervention environments, in addition to permit viewing through different angles (different observers).

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With all senses

Knowledge sharing can be done using two different approaches. On the one hand the explicit knowledge, that being the easiest to structure and register is also the most used, and on the other hand the tacit knowledge, which almost always presents difficulties in his “management” or sharing.

Tacit knowledge is based on practical and concrete experiences in the working process. Tacit knowledge does not exist primarily in a formalized or accurately recordable mode and therefore it is not to be understood as a thing, an object or a tangible good. Because tacit knowledge is also built up by physical experiences and self participations, by empathy and mimesis, it often occurs unconsciously. Sensing with all senses and the ability to empathize are vital here. Being based both on experience and the ability to deal with new experiences tacit knowledge exceeds the level of being informed.”

By being felt with all senses can sometimes emerge concerns to share knowledge that are associated with the possible instability that the sharing of knowledge can bring, i.e., if this attitude of sharing may or may not adversely affect the normal activity of people in organizations.

Some companies try to establish a knowledge management to promote the creation of new knowledge, and these efforts should seek to encompass also ways of dealing with the tacit knowledge.

Storytelling can be one of these forms, not only of transferring knowledge but also create an environment that disrupts and also brings balance and relaxation.

This can be learning by doing, which brings with it a need to integrate the knowledge that arises by virtue of the execution of tasks and that they are not recorded in any database.

In many of our activities, we find the knowledge, distributed in accordance with the procedures, domain and institutional or cultural characteristics. This release corresponds to a systematization more or less concentric level of knowledge.

When we try to frame the explicit and tacit knowledge in this distribution, we find that the first (the one that refers to “what”) is easily acceptable while tacit knowledge (“as”) requires some skill.

With the new technology we were able to solve most of our problems of explicit knowledge and with storytelling we can resolve our needs of transferring tacit knowledge.

Whatever area of expertise we have discussed, since the cultural processes, storytelling will enable us and foster interaction between multiple people, which usually doesn’t happen when we analyze files in a database.

The greater interaction among people in a company in knowledge transfer the greater seems to be the possibility of creating new knowledge.

The advantage of narratives, to describe steps already done, is the easy integration by more than one person, but for this to be effective, it must be well told stories.

The story must have a context and focus on something that can be memorable. Lived in an imaginary, contains stories and relatable episodes memorize effortlessly.

Storytelling is a way to share values and modes of operation, but should not be used as instruments of criticism.

To transform the vehicle of transmission of knowledge in history, allows its replication and consequent well-being of accountants and of the listeners or readers.

Storytelling is not an isolated act. It is collaboration between people and sharing knowledge.

Above all it is a way to create an enabling environment of learning and avoids the loss of knowledge of generations.

We understand that our past is responsible for our values and by the intensity with which we make use of them, but almost never know explain why we do it.

In fact, telling or listening to a story there is always some open questions:

Who tells the story?

Who listens to the story?

Where can they hear the story?

When they hear the story?

Why they are listening the story?

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Pillars of innovation development

Sam McNerney wrote an article “Is Too Much Familiarity Bad For Creativity?” that I highly recommend it causes a good reflection. From this text I chose three quotes that I expressed here, separated and without proper context to enable an extension of this reflection addressed to creativity and innovation.

From there we read:

– “If you want a creative solution to a problem, you’d better find someone who knows a little about the situation but not too much.”

– “Solvers tend to solve problems that are at the fringe of their expertise.”

– “The greatest innovators of any field share a few characteristics in common: years of intensive preparation and technical competence.”

At first glance we can easily identify some contradiction between statements, since in the first we have given priority to a not specialization in the second we accept some specialization and in third we have given priority to the experience and focus on specific matters.

However with some skill in handling this information we can confirm that all are true and we could find, in the past, representatives (people) of these avenues of approach to creativity in innovation.

There is however a note that goes unnoticed and which refers to the number of players in the epics of innovation. In the three statements made upon people are referred to as individual entities and not as groups or organizations.

It is here, in my opinion that is the major differentiation:

How the organizations where these people are inserted, works?

The complexity of contemporary issues suggests that a discipline just can’t solve them.

The good news for innovators is that, given this incredible complexity and diversity of today’s world, the opportunities for innovation are plentiful.

“Working together as a team, professionals must balance responsibilities, values, knowledge, skills, and even goals about patient care, against their role as a team member in shared decision-making. Because many physicians, in particular, are accustomed to a practice environment in which decisions are “made” by the doctor, and “carried out” by other professionals, it is difficult sometimes for physicians to adjust to a team approach, in which majority opinion, deference to more expert opinion, unanimity, or consensus may b more appropriate methods of decision-making than autocratic choice. Further, physicians who maintain a hierarchical concept of medical care may face serious problems when disagreements arise with other physicians of equal “stature” on the medical team. Interdisciplinary conflicts are seen in all areas of medical practice, but the operating room environment is particularly rich in examples in which patient care involves interdisciplinary cooperation, conflict, and compromise.” – University of Washington School of Medicine

Interdisciplinary teams are certainly a good example of working with the diversity that joins the diversity of opinions in a process of constant innovation and critical thinking.

To facilitate the work in an environment of diversity is not enough for the team to be conducted according to a perspective of interdisciplinarity, it is also necessary that the members of the team or teams are T shaped.

This means that, for example, engineers or other specialists in specific areas must have a basic knowledge of adjacent fields or link to be good collaboration partners and interlocutors, both inside and outside the organization.

This interdisciplinary connection assumes the character of actual collaboration where are needed competencies in the areas of research, creativity, communication and cooperation.

And for that these skills are translated into results it is essential that the predominant attitude is perseverance and enthusiasm to experiment with new ideas and continue searching and experimenting until they find the best solution, but also investing in curiosity and openness to ideas coming from outside.

This diversity in any innovation process is easily transformed into combined result if the common language is established and if the members of the teams are equipped with the skills and attitudes listed above.

To operate within an interdisciplinary environment, an individual needs to have strengths in two dimensions—the “T-shaped” person.

On the vertical axis, every member of the team needs to possess a depth of skill that allows him or her to make tangible contributions to the outcome. The top of the “T” is where the design thinker is made. It’s about empathy for people and for disciplines beyond one’s own.

It tends to be expressed as openness, curiosity, optimism, a tendency toward learning through doing, and experimentation.”

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Do we need to manage risks?

Although many companies do not see themselves in this situation, people are, to the businesses, either a component of their problems or an important part of the solutions.

People are the problem, when companies seek to identify their needs and to develop the company’s innovation processes to meet those needs. They are also a problem because, while employees (talent), they require a satisfaction management of needs and expectations, which is synonymous with risk management.

They are the solution because, as it is, the only known way to generate new ideas and find the most surprising combinations is through the people. Only they have the creativity, critical thinking, leadership skills and ability to build teams. People are also the solution, while customers, when involved in co-creation or creative problem solving.

Either as a problem or as a solution, or only part thereof, people, whether employees or customers, are a risk for the companies which is assumed at the time of their recruitment, i.e. values invested vs. return on innovation, in the first case.

Basically people are a risk because they are essentially responsible for decision making, irrespective of the level at which this takes place.

It is therefore understandable that, face a management culture where the analysis of the past to predict the future predominates, companies that claim themselves as “risk-averse” look for the so much desired certainty in curricula when hiring employees or talents, not taking a chance on creativity, rebelliousness or disruptive actions.

Sometimes it is helpful to remember that today I cannot run the 100 meters as fast as 30 years ago, that is, qualifications are not skills.

People are the center of all attention when we gather resources to implement the best ideas and when the business leaders overcome the fear of taking chances, fear that almost always corresponds to financial results.

So when we talk about risk management regarding people, what are we talking about?

We are talking about accepting, as team members, people who, not only do they correspond to the Aristotelian logic followers profile, i.e. also accepting those who ask questions, especially when they are stupid questions and begin by:

–      “What if?”

Almost always, the notion of risk is misunderstood and especially when we say that to collaborate with A or B is a risk.

The risks are contextual and we’ve almost always translated it without giving due importance to the context. A risk is as bad or as good as the assumptions on which we base ourselves to characterize them, which turns the risks into something subjective and dependent on the opportunity analysis.

To manage risks, (if this term has any meaning), is one way of dealing with uncertainty, a word that in innovation makes perfect sense. When this situation arises regarding a company’s employees we’re talking about belief and trust. To manage the risk as far as people are concerned. is dealing with the trust that we put in people and in their reciprocity towards the leadership as well as dealing with our ability to believe that anything is possible and that people are able to do it.

The problem with innovation is that we only know the outcome after we experiment something and only then will we also know to what extent trust in the work teams makes sense.

How can we predict people’s behavior when we experiment?

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

If, to manage the risk is trying to determine, what is the possibility of a future event affecting an organization, managing the risk that people represent may mean building a culture of trust and innovation in the enterprise.

What do you think about this?

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Reinventing the economy through the creation of a new culture of innovation

“The World Economic Forum formed a Global Agenda Council on Values in Decision-Making (of which I am a member) in response to the current economic crisis to realign our collective mindset and develop practical approaches for a more moral economy. It has developed an ambitious agenda to help organizations translate human values into practices and behaviors that strengthen our institutions and positively impact the state of the world. New challenges call for new approaches, and we hope that with this hackathon as the starting point, we can engage the tech and creative communities in an ongoing constructive dialogue on how technology, and especially social technology, can change corporate behavior.

This need for behavior change, for “reinventing business,” is an urgent one, considering the growing number of voices that observe a crisis of capitalism and demand its fundamental transformation” – Tim Leberecht

To reinvent the business is to innovate the management, leadership and the way of being as a whole while organization.

I think the reinvention of business have to impact also on leadership and managers because of the lack of confidence that has taken place in many organizations, in the recent past and that easily translates into lack of hope for a more sustainable and friendly future.

Trust is a fundamental pillar of innovation culture.

Trust is a two-way street and organizations (their managers) with other ways to manage than command and control (position so dearest to some talents that assume the leadership of the business) develop networks of trust facilitating collaboration among all.

When inside an organization there is a network that assumes the role of innovation, all individuals are connected to generate their own ideas, experiences, and engage in knowledge transfer. In this way trust installs itself, the self-knowledge grows and the talent is used in favor of the organization and not in favor of individual positions.

“In an innovation culture, the network is embedded into everyone’s daily work: to stimulate the generation of ideas, the testing of these ideas as limited impact experiments, the sharing of the results of these tests, the scaling of the successful experiments, and the recombination of ideas, experiments and tests with one another to spur the creation of yet more ideas. The individual users are not posting ideas for other people to try out. Instead, they’re sharing ideas that they intend to experiment with themselves or ideas they have experimented with already.”

It is a culture of innovation where it is aligned the need to develop ways to be as the collaboration and the ability (talent) and reponsability of all elements of the organization.

“An enterprise that is constantly exploring new horizons is likely to have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. When a once successful company runs aground and starts to list, its most talented employees usually don’t stick around to bail water, they jump ship. A dynamic company will have employees who are more engaged, more excited to show up to work every day, and thus more productive.” – Gary Hamel

It doesn’t seem difficult to imagine that a company which, in addition to being judicious in their hires, promotes the development of collaborative work grows and consolidates its strength in the market.

What happens is that the sets of talents in collaboration become a “machine” highly productive and creative.

Furthermore, where an organization, or its leaders, knows how to work these formal and informal networks of talent, they have access to their vital energy and can manage it in accordance with the common interest.

Issues related to ethics and values are assimilated by all without intervention of exclusion clauses as can happen in rigid hierarchical structures.

“With the rise of “talentism,” the need for a real understanding of the common human values that connect organizations and individuals is becoming ever more important. Transparency, inclusivity, individual empowerment, and organizational responsiveness are crucial in nurturing businesses’ social fabric and facilitating empathy and collaboration. Yet, the challenge remains:

How do we translate these values into day-to-day corporate behavior and into tangible, personal experiences?

How can companies become open organizations that harness and build social capital both inside and outside of their institutional boundaries?

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Without touch points we do not create value

When I think of creativity, I think of connectivity and I imagine a universe of complex relationships and connections, full of surprises and attributes.

To be connected means that I’m not indifferent to what is happening in the world around me.

Imagine a work network in an organization where each of us represents a connection point to others. Speed, frequency and intensity with which these connections take place are connectivity.

Saying this way it seems to be easy to imagine that the higher the connectivity, greater speed and volume of exchange of ideas take place and more creativity emerges.

I.e. creativity emerges as a confluence of several factors, whether they are our intellectual capacity, knowledge, our style of thinking, our personality, motivation or context.

For example people who are more prone to think in a divergent way are more creative and exhibit higher levels of cognitive complexity and also greater flexibility in the approach to problems.

It seems to be true that creative people are good to deal with ambiguous and unstructured situations. (What do you think?)

This could mean that a creative person has some salient characteristics, such as tolerance for ambiguity, self-confidence (in his creative activity), independence and autonomy in decision-making (and they may be collaborative too), persistence and self-discipline, a very peculiar narrative and they believes in their activity.

Another scenario!

Imagine an exchange of experiences in an interdisciplinary team, in which participants build a map through which any user can construct a new structured representation of concepts and relationships between them!

This map can be used to formalize, organize and represent concepts and even other maps of various disciplines, thus facilitating the sharing of information and knowledge, and giving way to the creation of new knowledge.

In these circumstances we can “guess” that the ambiguity arises naturally as a consequence of the absence of a common language between disciplines, but that is quickly faded with a collaborative methodology and belief in success.

This is a liberating form of knowledge and at the same time a lever for creativity.

We can observe easily that, on the one hand, it is common to have knowledge of boundary between the various disciplines, and this knowledge is easily integrated and, on the other hand, the knowledge that does not lie on the borders favors the curiosity and research providing greater wealth among the various disciplines.

Thus, as the results based on different perspective are complemented each other, we have acquired a whole much greater than the sum of its parts, because there may be place to validations that before were not imagined.

Today the world is of relationships, connectivity, even if virtual, where knowledge is a strong currency to trade between individuals and groups who promote creativity through connections.

The role of creative people is connecting things that apparently do not relate. With an increasingly connected through the Web the amount of loose ends in information, increases every day, and the opportunities of generating ideas accompany this growth.

The context where people fall, is of course a factor that we consider when we talk about wealth of ideas and quantity or in terms of “quality”, i.e. comprehensiveness, complexity and effectiveness of troubleshooting or satisfaction of needs.

It is in this aspect, the needs of people, that raises the question of another need, the need of empathy.

Is that true, that for an idea to be valid, or actually with value, it needs to fit an existing need, even if hidden?

Does this make it necessary to have an empathic attitude with people to solve the problems?

I have no doubt that only the deep understanding of the problems allows that generation of ideas is capable of meeting the real needs of consumers/users, but there are hidden therefore unmet needs, which will only be satisfied if there is a broad connectivity environment in the creative process.

“When you ask a creative person how they did something, they may feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or have thought more about their experiences than other people have. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. They don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions, without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better designs we will have.” – Steve Jobs


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Interdisciplinary teams and culture

An organization wishing to use creativity as a lever for business success should be constantly looking for people with a mind open to collaboration with the representatives of the various existing disciplines inside and outside the organization.

It is this ability that distinguishes the multidisciplinary teams of interdisciplinary teams. A multidisciplinary team seeks to defend his individual’s own specialty and their techniques of choice which causes long-term approaches and probably weak conclusions.

In an interdisciplinary team, there is a collective ownership of ideas and a co-responsibilization assumed in the development of actions.

We know or we think that creativity calls for autonomy and for responsibility and that one of the factors which leverage creativity is the exposure to many stimuli from living with many experiences in diverse locations.

In addition, the contact with others allows the confrontation with divergent thoughts that promote consistency of the concept we are dealing with.

In an organization when an idea is presented by one of its members, the role of other collaborators with regard to knowledge is important in generating ideas, because it is, according Teresa Amabile, a prerequisite for creative success.

It has become a cliché that great discoveries come from interdisciplinary thinking—a chemist bringing insight to a discussion of a materials problem, a physicist sharing an intuition about a problem in biology, a biologist helping an engineer see how nature comes up with optimal solutions. Few realize how much science is energized when team members have different cultural approaches to problem solving. International diversity is just as important as diversity of discipline.”

Within an organization, the creative teams are dynamic, given the diversity of talents that are involved, either by the way they view the conflict of ideas, either by the way they manage the energy available (forces or weaknesses).

If we observe with some attention the course of the work of a team looking for solutions to a problem, we note that its elements are agile in balancing the weaknesses of each other’s forces.

There is a constant challenge between them and the criticisms are assumed as a way to raise the level of enjoyment of creative play, and most of the time this challenge supported on deep understanding of each other’s limits. There is empathy.

However, when an organization presents itself with a vertical structure, in which leadership is imposed and ideas circulate with difficulty the environment is not conducive to creativity.

Looking for a unique response to the resolution of a problem that typically has origin in a complex situation that corresponds to our daily lives or searching for logic and rules for finding solutions makes it difficult to offer answers based on ideas.

Therefore, in an organization people driven by utilitarian tend to adhere to standards and strategies that the experience taught them are better suited to perform.

However, the changing nature of our society, rich in diversity of cultural experiences, places often questions about the relationship of people to each other and issues with physical environments where they are inserted.

To solve some of the problems that may arise in relationships and in the integration of people in diverse environments we have to draw these relationships and this involves paying attention to factors as race, ethnicity, gender, class, age, physical or mental disability/ability, and religion.

This diversity that we see today in most places that we know has been ignored in respect of its potential as a source of energy and creativity.

It is therefore important to emphasize that the complementarity that can exist among the members of the teams in an organization is essential to the promotion of ideas.

If, the other members of the team of each one of us, they occupy a different role or are on a different level of organization, working in another field of interest, or has connections with people different from the usual contacts, complementarity is evidenced.

Although I feel the need to highlight the need to leverage the potential of the cultural and disciplinary diversity, there are other things that I think are important for reflection.

Disciplines exist and some, with a history of many years, still insist on indulging in their neighborhoods. There are some cultures, and in some places, that tend to radicalization. People need to reflect and use their capacity for critical thinking.

For example, today most MBAs are based on statistical studies and accounting and creativity has a secret place at its disposal with non-visual expression and in spite of everything we all know that the image is an excellent means of communication.

Maybe “design” can help in understanding the importance of cultural diversity and interdisciplinarity.


Because, “to design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit; it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade and even perhaps to amuse.”-Paul Rand

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