Collaborate, but only intermittently

To innovate, organizations have to come up with new ideas. At the employee level, creativity results from a combination of thinking skills and expertise. At the team level, it results from the synergy between employees.  Is it better to solve problems in isolation or by collaborating with others?

There is plenty of evidence available that the most widely used method to spark group creativity - brainstorming, a technique first introduced by Alex Osborn in the 1950s - simply don´t work.  Several research has shown that when people interact and influence each other while solving complex problems, the average problem-solving performance of the group increases, but the best solution of the group actually decreases in quality.

But don´t worry - now there is a winning formula available. Harvard research says the best solutions come from "intermittent collaboration" - group work punctuated by breaks to think and work by ourselves. 

Check it out:
"When the interactions were intermittent, the higher performers were able to get even better by learning from the low performers. When high and low performers interacted constantly, the low performers tended to simply copy high performers’ solutions and were in turn generally ignored by the high performers. But when their interactions were intermittent, the low performers’ ideas helped the high performers achieve even better solutions."
Bottom line: Next time you brainstorm, don´t. Instead of it set a challenge and let team members intermittently collaborate and work individually. 

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