“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” –Aristotle
Collaboration is central to the success of many of today's highest-performing organizations. In technology, medicine, government, communications, finance, and in many other endeavors, diverse teams must come together to solve tomorrow's challenges or to identify and grow new markets.
Teamwork can be habitual, when roles are well established and activities are routine. So how do teams generate new ideas, tackle novel challenges, and develop new approaches? How can teams avoid groupthink or escape the tendency for one or two voices to drown out the valuable ideas of a wider, more varied group?
Individually, our creativity is limited by our own experiences and beliefs. Together, we reach conclusions never dreamt of when working alone. The work of good collaboration is difficult, and it requires commitment, but it can also be rewarding, profitable, and even fun.
“Play is the highest form of research.” –Einstein
Innovation, especially through teamwork, is a form of structured play. We share and accept well-intentioned ideas while delaying our judgment of them, transforming every concept into something new, saying “Yes, and...” to what comes our way.
Only after we possess a rich pool of new ideas, exciting combinations, and silly non sequiturs do we evaluate our possibilities. Even then, how much richer is it to say, “Yes, if...” rather than “But no...”? Innovation is an unending process, and from it we merely pick and choose the ideas which excite us most.