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How Collaboration and Creativity Lead to Innovation

5 minutes read

Leaders realize that in order to prosper in this fast-paced business environment, collaborative innovation is vital. To achieve that, creativity and collaboration need to go hand in hand.

Creativity is hard to define because everyone most likely has their own thoughts on what it means.

However, I believe we can all agree that it’s often the first step in the innovation collaboration process. 

Before we dive into how and if creativity is affected in the context of online collaboration, let’s define the concept of collaborative design.

What Is Collaborative Design?

Collaborative design is a process that involves different team members in order to come up with ideas and solutions.

Design needs to have a collaboration component where graphic designers need to work with the marketing department or development.

Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO, said:

Design is now too important to be left to designers.

This doesn’t mean that they should be excluded from the creative process, but instead, bring other people together that can challenge their ideas.

The more diversity there is in the process of collaborative design, the higher the chances of coming up with innovative solutions.

We’ve already talked about creative collaboration, one of its main benefits being the fact that ideas are validated quicker and faster than ever before.

Let’s have a closer look at what could block creativity in your team and how to overcome it.  

Collaborative Tools

Having digital team collaboration tools that streamline workflows and creativity is essential. For an agile team, a creative’s best friend is an online content collaboration app.

An online collaboration tool will help the creative mind stay focused and not dismiss the context, which can happen quite often in an analog solo workflow. We’re talking creativity after all.

This undoubtedly leads to frustrations, missed deadlines, and a longer time to market. 

Social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing most companies to work remotely. Thus online tools have become or will become our best friend.

People tend to be reluctant when we talk about change, but again, being agile and adapting quickly to new situations is essential. 

When using a team collaboration app, a creative doesn’t have to design sketches, print the designs, go to the client, and present the pitch.

This entire process can happen online.

You can create the design from scratch if you want, or you can use various templates that you can personalize to have that unique look and feel.

Moreover, you can receive real-time feedback from everyone in the team, which will only speed time to completion.

This means that you use creativity at work as efficiently as possible and have more time to spend on other activities

According to Psychology Today, collaboration does not require constant en face or symbiosis with the team. Merging and separating at different phases of the work keeps individual identities and energies intact.

Your work creativity is being fed from stimuli that appear in arbitrary settings. I always encouraged my teams to read and look at stuff that aren’t work-related.

Ideas spark from unexpected places and from unexpected people. Literally, anyone can be creative.

An idea, even a bad one, can be picked up by someone else, nurtured and polished, backed up by data, and eventually get to the top of the list. Alternatively, it can be dismissed from the start. 

Key takeaways:  

  • Save time that you can use to pitch more clients
  • Reduce the amount of paper used
  • Invest more time in your passion
  • The energies will remain intact, and your creativity will spark 

Team Members’ Essential Skills

Collaborating on a shared goal means bringing together a team of talented people with different characteristics.

Innovation starts with the creativity of individuals as generating new ideas is a cognitive process.

Ella Miron-Spektor and her colleagues investigated the role of cognitive style in 41 teams in an R&D company.

They showed that teams with members that have creative and conformist cognitive styles enhanced radical team innovation. In contrast, members with attention-to-detail cognitive techniques stifled a team’s radical, innovative output.

The researchers also found that creative team members increase task conflict and hinder team adherence to standards, which potentially boosts team idea generation.

This is somehow obvious, as we all know, creative minds have their own way.

Conformist team members, on the other hand, reduce task conflict as well as enhance team adherence to standards, which may facilitate the innovation and collaboration implementation process.

Therefore, make sure all team members that join an online creative project have collaborative skills.

You should already have and trust such members, but if you don’t, now’s the time to spend more time in one-on-one calls and nurture those skills. 

Key takeaways:

  • It’s essential to have team members from a variety of disciplines, functions, and viewpoints
  • Show trust to your team members

Creativity and the Leader

Technology has a massive contribution to the complexity of a growing company, as it interconnects people, nations, and converges systems of all kinds.

As the work environment is significantly more complex, CEOs defy it with, you guessed it, creativity.

A study conducted by IBM Institute of Business Value (IBV) among 1500 CEOs revealed that the most essential quality seen in leadership is creativity.

From a student’s perspective, six out of ten rated creativity among the top three leadership qualities, more than any other quality. 

CEOs that saw the need for continuous change encourage a new mindset of questioning “the way things get done” among all employees while also avoiding the old command and control style of leadership.

As a consequence of leading differently, leaders communicate differently with the team and experiment with digital media and networking channels to establish clarity of purpose and company values. 

I asked Gery Meleg, our Head of Design & Product Manager, what’s his take on creativity in the team: 

Gery MelegGery Meleg

Head of Design & Product Manager

The way ideas are born is usually a matter of connection. No black magic here. Connecting ideas, data, thoughts, experiences, skills, know-how, and intuition. This is creativity, oh—and creativity is universal! Anyone can be creative, almost anyone has ideas and something to share. The secret is to grow a team and enable an environment that helps us all share these in between us.

There is no secret in high-performing creative teams other than a few key ingredients. First, you’ll need a team of multi-talented, well-skilled, and communicative people. Second, you’ll need a transparent, supportive, and open workflow. Third, you’ll need a fun, collaborative environment. With all these in place, we can let ideas happen. It’s like a well-designed airport.

You cannot have an efficient, creative collaboration, without everyone feeling that they’re part of the same team. And most importantly, they don’t have to feel alone. Like they have to make everything on their own. That’s why we have open offices, creative spaces, cool coffee-places all over the world—these all help us connect, share, and ultimately, create.

But what if we are all remote?

Well, the rules are the same. You just need to work a bit harder, connect with your team members more often, make calls, have a chat, give more feedback, be more present. As a leader, you need to find the best online platforms that help you create that transparent, open, and highly collaborative environment.

In a team of creatives, we all are important, and there are no bad ideas, just different perspectives that can all help us perform more efficiently, design better, and make things happen.

Key takeaways:

  • Avoid command and control style of leadership
  • Communicate often
  • Encourage a collaborative environment

Final Thoughts

Now, I would like to hear from you: how does your company use creativity and collaboration to foster innovation?

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