In the last course, we talked about how to change our perspectives so we can generate insights, inventions, enlightenments, and be creative. One of the challenges to being creative that we talked about is this tension between the habit of getting through your day and changing your perspective to take a new pathway. But most of the time we wrestle with that tension at the level of us as individuals. I'm going about my day and I'm either doing it as I normally do or I get creative, change my perspective and realize I can do something differently. But then what happens is my day intersects with your day. Not too often. Not as often as I'd like, but the point is you get to work, you get to the office, you work with somebody else. We're so often doing things not on our own, but with other people. The question then is what happens when all of these discussions about my perspective, my habit, my new perspective meets the world, and in particular my group? Here we're going to switch gears a little bit and talk about creativity as it unfolds in teams. Here the question is, how do you connect minds, and how do you share perspectives, and how do you hopefully change each other's perspectives in a way that will allow you to be more creative? Intuitively, people assume that this should be easy, you just put a group together and you share perspectives and creativity should just reflow from that. I think the intuition is it should help. If you're in a group, you come with your perspective, I come with my perspective, we blend our perspectives, we therefore have some change because you say something, I hear something, whatever, and you'd think, oh synergy, wonderful. By the way, I hate that word, synergy. It sounds so easy. That's the problem. That is. It does sound easy. We're going to talk about the promise of teams that they really do have the potential to be creative. But before we get there, we're going to delve into the dark side and really talk about why creativity groups is really not as easy as it sounds. It's hard. Teams have the potential to foster creativity, but another reason we have to grapple with team creativity is just because teams are everywhere these days in organizations. It's just a huge trend. It's unavoidable. It's really part of a broader trend that's taken place over the last two decades or so, which is that people are just spending less and less time working alone and more and more time working as part of a team, and so it's just a reality we have to deal with. We have to get better at it. But just to give you a sense for the magnitude of this shift, I just thought it for fun, put the word team player into Amazon, and there were literally hundreds of book titles. Oh, it's dangerous. Some things weren't safe for work, but there were hundreds of book titles that purport to teach people how to be better team players. There's one book that is a guide for becoming the person that every team wants, and then another one which is how to raise a team player, which is a guide for parents. For parents. If that isn't horrifying, I don't know what it is. There's got to CEO one too. How to turn your organization into team player. Or how to turn your three-year-old into the CEO you've always wanted, so we could start industry. There you go. But anyway, it's really deeply embedded in organizational cultures and so we just have to deal with it. There was another survey that I also found disturbing recently, actually is a few years ago, but they asked to the CEOs of a number of major corporations what they thought the most important skills are for getting ahead at work, and the results disturbed me because what they said was that being a team player was ahead of knowledge, skill, and ability. Which means that it's more important to be a team player than actually know what you're doing, which is really disturbing to me. They really like me. We're trying to be creative in the context of working in teams and this's where team player mentality, which will end up playing a big role. How can we both be a team player, but also be creative too? Or how can you resist being a team player and be a rebel? We'll get to that, possibility as well. Even better put. One of the classic stories in creativity is the story of Arthur Fry at 3M and the invention of the Post-It Note. Apparently as the way the story goes, at least as I heard it, is that Arthur Fry was trying to make some new kind of glue and he made a mistake. He generated a glue that just didn't stick, but he persisted, stuck with it, and wow, we have Post-It Notes and it's an incredible thing. It seems like a classic story of creativity, the failure that turned out to be a success, but more importantly, a story of an individual who persisted against all odds and was eventually lauded for having done it, so individual creativity? Yeah, right. It's the story of the lone genius, right? Yeah. I guess what we forget is he didn't even invent the glue. That was the basis for it. He actually did though we can give him credit for recognizing that there needed to be something that didn't quite stick, and that could be useful as a bookmark because he used to sing in the choir. Then he needed something that he could remove from the page, then move along. He had this, I need this thing. Is there a glue that does that? One of the ways the context matter is that at 3M they had a culture that actually valued failure and they kept every failed recipe for glue going back decades. It was in this vault. It wasn't as though he came up with the glue. First of all, it was that the organization had a way of remembering these solutions and that requires a culture and a context that valued failures. That was one way. Another is that he didn't know about the failed recipe for glue. He only knew about it because he had a lunchtime conversation with colleagues who wonderfully remembered the recipe and then shared it with him and then that sent him on his way. It was really about connecting different pieces of knowledge. One person developed a failed recipe for glue, Art Fry, recognized that there was a need in the world for something. His colleagues remember that there was a failed recipe lying around that had those properties. Really when you rethink the story, it's less about the lone genius and more about a collective process of being creative. What is the post-it note process really tell us about when teams have the potential to be creative. It was a particular case that tells us when teams have the potential to be useful. It stands in, I think, for a whole class of cases of two levels. One is, it's a really long, complicated process. It's not just you sit in your room, a light bulb goes off and then you've got it. You do everything along the way. But there are all these steps along the way. I don't know. Let's see. Someone had to make a glue that failed. Someone had to store it in case it would be later useful. Someone had to remember it was there. I don't even remember where my keys are every morning much less the failed adhesive that was there for 20 years. Absolutely. Someone had to think of a use that wasn't being met. A need. I have this quire hymn and I need something to stick to these pages, probably removable. That's a fourth thing. Someone had to fund the prototype. That required a decision-making process that somebody gets credit for that as well. Then someone had to hear about one and tell the other. We have a connector person. They made it, then what? Someone had to figure out who the audience, who the consumer constituency is. There are multiple parts going on here, multiple moving parts. Really those are when teams work best, when you have a very complex problem that requires different strategies and different approaches, then you have the potential to combine all of these things. Another advantage of teams is that there is the potential to use different sources of knowledge as well. We saw that in that story. Where there was one person who knew how to make glue, there was a person who remembered where the failed recipes were. Yet Art Fry who had real-world experience that pointed to a potential use for it. You even had the administrative assistants who were the first to actually have the prototype. Then they were able to look for creative uses for it, that maybe Art Fry didn't even think of when he was singing in the choir. Again, we have not only multiple steps, but also multiple sources of knowledge. When you have situations like that, then there at least exists the potential for teams to be creative by combining all of those things. If we can break apart a problem and if we can break apart the knowledge for that problem, we could have one person who can do all the steps and has all the knowledge. But we could distribute it across people. Because we have technical knowledge or parts can be really complicated to do, that's where teams can play a role because you get that different strength that I may not have all the strength you may not, but together we can do a lot. It's possible to find that one genius who knows everything. But it's unlikely. It's much easier to find a team. We rely on teams. The reality is we really have to grapple with team creativity. For one, there's actually a lot of potential for teams to be creative. There's at least the potential for people to exchange perspectives with others and thereby reach creative solutions. The other reality is that we have to work in teams, often in organizations. Whether you like it or not, you're going to be in a team. It helps to know how they work. Before we get to the optimistic ideal, how do we be creative in teams, we're going to talk about the pitfalls and the dark side and what are the barriers that teams pose in terms of preventing people from being creative.