Team Dynamics with Innovating – Two Methods

I often get sucked into Janet Rae-Dupree’s writings and this week is no exception. She published a story called For Innovators, There Is Brainpower in Numbers that is mainly an advice piece about team dynamics with innovating. But before I get to that, I must copy a proverb she included:

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Japanese proverb

Back to my entry. An effective means to improve the efficiency of generating ideas is something called TIPS or Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. It is based on ideas of Genrich Altshuller, a Russian engineer/ scientist who led a related association in the second half of of the 1900s. How it works is to take successful products or processes and componentize them for what is innovative or reusable. Then take those parts and assemble what is applicable into the next problem. This benefits from a broad range of diversity in thought. Avenues that don’t seem similar are exposed for potential. And ultimately time is saved and relationships are formed.

Janet Rae-Dupree also talks about Brainstorming. She describes it as not the pancea it is often thought to be. I agree to a point. I think some brainstorming is good, especially when the participants feed off each other. But too often it is not a good use of time. Some of the reasons for this are (as excerpted):

throwing in an idea for public consideration generates fear of failure,
and workers looking to advance their own interests often keep their
best ideas to themselves until a more opportune time.

But researchers have shown repeatedly that individuals working alone generate more ideas than groups acting in concert.

As an aside, it seems group or team dynamics have the potential to accomplish more and quicker, but the US doesn’t reinforce this in its education system. Collaborative learning is often ignored for Anaylsis and Procedure learning (tests).

“Innovation today isn’t a sudden break with the past, a brilliant
insight that one lone outsider pushes through to save the company,” he
says. “Just the opposite: innovation today is a continuous process of
small and constant change, and it’s built into the culture of
successful companies.”


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