I am in the midst of reading “Group Genius, The Creative Power of Collaboration” by Keith Sawyer and came upon what might very well be one of my favorite chapters of the book, Chapter Five: Small Sparks.
One of the quick stories of creative collaboration contained within has to do with the fact C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein met while they were in the English department at Oxford University. Both harbored a secret hobby of writing short stories of fantasy fiction, and ended up creating a small group of like-minded writers called “The Inklings” who met frequently to read their works and critique one anothers efforts.
Who knows what might have (or might NOT have happened) should the two of them not collaborated?
A few more pages into the chapter, the author shares a list of five basic stages that (according to psycholigists) are always embedded in creative sparks generated by the collaborative process…
This involves a period of hard work, studying the problem, and speaking about the topic with everyone else working on it.
2. Time Off
The team member changes context and engages in other activities — often in conversation with others.
3. The Spark
During time off, a solution appears. That solution is deeply embedded in the knowledge and social interactions generated during the Preparation and Time Off stages — and it builds on sparks generated by others in the group.
The “Aha!” feeling doesn’t always mean the idea is good. Creative people are very good at selecting the best ideas for follow-up, or they collaborate with others in the selection process.
Working out the details of an idea typically requires generating a lot of additional ideas. Bring all the disparate ideas together in a cohesive form always requires social interaction and group collaboration.
It’s a great read with a lot of little revelations that add up to proving a big idea — none of us is as smart as all of us.
Pick up a copy at Amazon.com.