Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of considers at the creative benefits of working with other people.

Creativity in Groups

Original thinkers should have the courage to pursue ideas on their own - even when those around them are negative.

However, there are situations where groups can be useful in coming up with new ideas. Somebody in a group could have some information that might help develop an idea or even indicate why that idea is likely to work. The person who had the original idea might not have had access to that specialist knowledge before.

Somebody in the group might have the technical knowledge to suggest how the idea could be executed. The person who originated the idea might be stuck at the concept stage. Therefore, finding a practical method of delivering the concept will be essential.

Several people in the group could have suggestions regarding ways in which modifications or improvements could be made to the idea. These suggestions might be useful in overcoming difficulties, dangers or obstacles, and could enhance the power or practicality of the idea.

People who are not especially good at generating ideas themselves might still be good at making improvements to the ideas of others. A different sort of thinking is necessary.

Someone in the group might know of a similar idea that had in fact been tried. That person could then describe what had happened. Someone in the group might have some specialist technical knowledge which could either help the idea or count against it.

Something else to consider is the stimulus value of a group. Someone else’s idea, or even a remark, might stimulate a new idea or a new train of thought.

There is another special value in a group. If everyone likes and is enthusiastic about the idea, that is of huge benefit to the person who originated the idea and gives them confidence and energy to pursue the idea further. Someone in the group could even offer to help with regard to this.

Even if it is not necessary to generate new ideas, a group can still be useful towards their development. This development could take the form of suggestions regarding how the idea generated could be delivered in a practical way.

The development could also take the form of fundamental improvements in the idea and the value delivered by it.

Regarding the judgment of ideas, a group can be very useful - provided it has the right kind of attitude. It is extremely hard for the idea’s originator to judge whether or not their idea is feasible and whether it will really deliver the suggested value.

There is value in the opinion of others. Perhaps the supportive judgment of one other person with knowledge of the field might be sufficient. Because a group contains differing opinions, knowledge and experience, this contribution might be even better than one from an individual.

However, it is important that the judging group has a positive attitude. A group consisting of people who are inclined to be negative, jealous or ego-driven can ruin even the best ideas. In these cases, the chairperson of the group should insist that everyone makes an effort to point out the positive aspects of the idea.

A group that consists of people who work in the area of the new idea can be very useful in suggesting practical methods that could be used to implement the idea.

Implementation is just as important as creativity, even if it might not be as exciting. Valuable ideas are those that are usable and used.

About the author
Edward de Bono is the world's leading authority in the field of creative thinking and the teaching of thinking as a skill.

  Edward de Bono