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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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Diversity or interdisciplinary teams

When people see their organization with a big light but focused, when people feel the collaboration, openness to new ideas and the organization is able to evaluate and develop new ideas with justice, focused on a clear vision of innovation and they are recognized for their work, these people are more creative.

On the contrary, people are less creative if the environment is of internal competition, if there are political struggles of departments or aversion to new ideas and to take risks and uncertainty.

And people are most creative when …

“The project outcomes “strongly support the notion that the participation of representatives from very diverse higher-education institutions in the four networks, and especially the combination of the arts and other disciplines, provided a highly favourable framework for tackling a multifaceted topic like creativity”. –

People easily believe that diversity in creativity and innovation is a good bet. But when innovation is necessary and urgent, most people believe that a response is given by the capacity of people favoring often teams with more homogeneous characteristics.

In other words the diversity is seen as something interesting and possibly fun, but the urgent does consider capacity as critical in many situations.

“The core of diversity lies in understanding that we are better performers, better leaders, better service providers and better people when we surround ourselves with those who are different from us. However, the reality is that most adults are more comfortable with people who are just like them.” – Alicia Arenas

In that same reality, diversity generally exceeds the capacity, and the teams built based on diversity (interdisciplinary) outnumber the teams based on the competence of a discipline.

For that companies could be innovative, they must understand that the best innovations often are from the lowest levels of the Organization and that innovation can and should take place in any functional area.

Innovative organizations will instill a culture of innovation throughout the organization. This culture is based on stimulation of ideas and creativity, not forgetting that the appearance of failure follows the conviction sooner fail less costs entails.

In a company with a culture of innovation, management and his peers are venture capitalists and deal with uncertainty, assuming this role in seeking to collect a large number of ideas from various sources are they cultural, academic or functional.

But it is not enough the desire, it is not enough want to innovate and think that all the rest are facilities.

Organizations must create conditions for creativity to flourish through the connections between people.

It is important to break cultural barriers and the barriers between disciplines, causing people to meet and learn from each other.

The new ideas arise at the frontiers of knowledge of each one of us when we borrow to art a little of science, when an innovative thinks like a designer or an engineer embraces a philosopher.

Sculptors, scientists, poets, philosophers, financiers, painters, architects, psychologists, mathematicians, computer, etc. should all converge to creativity and innovation.

When an organization offers its employees a framework to focus on contexts and tools, (context analysis analogies and conceptual mixture), to establish connections between the diversity of its employees then we can create a new Renaissance.

The best ideas come from the fringes of the disciplines or overlap of different peoples approaches …” When you build the team you should encourage diversity and bring the outside inside, (consumers, partners …) “– Tom Hulme-Ideo

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