There's no 'I' in innovation - or is there?

Are group dynamics the enemy of innovation?  Writing in the Financial Post, Mitchell Osak refers to a research study that suggests this is the case.The researchers undertook experiments that compared two innovation processes:

  • A team centred model, in which  peers were encouraged to collaborate to produce new ideas
  • A hybrid individual team approach, in which individuals were encouraged to brainstorm and refine new ideas alone and then present them to groups for development
Despite the fact that current innovation 'good practice' recommends team based processes, the experiments concluded that the hybrid approach generated significantly ‘better quality' ideas - and more of them. Professors Terwiesch and Ulrich (Wharton College), who write about their research here, believe that a hybrid approach encourages more 'out of the box' thinking, whereas group dynamics can be harmful to innovation.  Peer groups can fall victim to self censorship and or to overpowering individuals.However...  the answer is, it seems, not to dismiss the collaborative approach altogether but simply to devise tools and processes that can help minimise the potential negative elements of collaboration by bringing more objectivity to the innovation process.  Suggested techniques include 'online suggestion boxes' or 'innovation tournaments' where ideas compete for resources.It's quite game of Osak to write about this, especially as he happily admits he himself has advocated the collaborative approach to creativity on his own blog.  He quite charmingly refers to himself as an 'un consultant'!