Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Outsider Thinking Drives Creativity

If you've ever used a cross functional team to solve a thorny problem, you'll be nodding your head in agreement as you watch this video.  The idea of bringing people in from different disciplines to "think outside of the box” isn't a new one, but the idea of posting R&D problems to the Internet for any person, group, or company to solve takes it to a whole new level - a global, virtual level. 

In this video from Big Think, Jonah Lehrer, author of  Imagine: How Creativity Works, shares a crowd sourcing site developed by Eli Lilly called InnoCentive designed to tap into the world market of innovators.  And it's been successful with 30-50 percent of posted problems being solved within six months.  

Not surprising that an expert from outside the company might have the missing piece since it's hard for us to see the assumptions that hold us back until someone with a different perspective challenges them. 

More surprising is what Karim Lakhani from Harvard Business School found in a study on who solved the problems.  "Most problems on InnoCentive are solved by experts outside of the field – chemistry problems solved by physicists. Engineering problems solved by chemists. And so on." 
Meaning that real progress can be made when you bring people to the table that aren't bound by your team's culture, assumptions, restrictions, and function.  Creativity and innovation will thrive in an environment with multiple disciplines, varied experiences, encouraged curiosity, and proper incentives. 

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