Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Group Genius

Do you believe becoming a creative genius is an isolated and individual process? Most people would agree with you but not Keith Sawyer. In Group Genius: the Creative Power of Collaboration he dispels this myth by using improv and jazz as successful examples of group creativity. In both processes, a small spark is created when group members interact with one another by building on previous sparks.

Sawyer goes into more depth about these sparks, even explaining that they occur in all stages of the collaborative creative process:
  1. Preparation
  2. Time off
  3. The spark
  4. Selection
  5. Elaboration

What makes this different from most theories of group creativity is that you don't have to participate in a traditional brainstorming session to get results. In fact, the most fascinating part of the book is when Sawyer debunks the myths of Morse, Edison and Darwin as individual geniuses. Instead, he explains how they developed their ideas during years of exploration, outside influences, and previous inventions.

This theory appeals to what I've always believed about creativity and that is that you can't create in a bubble. You need to embrace random experiences and diverse opinions and blend them with your personal style.

  • Who has shaped your creative spark?

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