Wanna get creative? Join a team. (Maybe.)

2009 July 31

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Creative Commons License photo credit: torres21

For some of us, creativity just spews from our core, touching everything we do, whether we design a newsletter, write a song or paint a bedroom. For others of us, it may come a bit more slowly as we wait for inspiration to strike or a skill to develop.

Whether you work alone, at a small shop or for a big corporation, you’ll often have the chance to collaborate with other people. And, whether that collaboration takes the form of a strategic partnership, a volunteer committee or a special project team, there is an art to making sure that the group inspires action and change, rather than prohibits it.

Sure, group think and stagnation can set in. Or, the collective wisdom and inspiration of a particular assortment of people can raise the level of everyone’s participation and performance.

For example, I recently participated in Nashville’s 48 Hour Film Project. A group of friends and I had just two full days to write, create, shoot, edit and produce a 7-minute film that used a required character name, prop and line of dialog.

Like many things, inertia was key. Things started slowly, but in no time (once the pizza and beer arrived on Friday night), ideas were shared, improved upon and agreed on. Each team member made the others better and come Sunday afternoon, we had a product that we were proud of – and one that was a lot of fun to make.

There’s a difference between making a movie on the weekend and working on something for the boss. But, we’re wondering this weekend: Do you think teams inspire or kill creativity?

Tell us in the comments, or even weigh in on the following questions:

  • How do you keep your team creative?
  • Are teams better when participation is voluntary, as opposed to required?
  • How do you decide when teams are worth using in the creative process?
  • When is it time for a team to call it quits?
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One Response leave one →
  1. 2009 July 31

    Ah, I love working with teams. The collaboration is really exciting for me. However, it really depends on the team and how the ‘leader(s)’ step forward. Sometimes the leaders will begin to sway the team, control the decisions and really inhibit what the final choice or project ends up being.

    I’ve seen teams butt heads and virtually get nowhere. Sometimes it makes me want to brainstorm (quietly) by myself, then we all bring our ideas together. When I worked at a PR firm, we would all brainstorm to begin with a new client and launch. There were “no stupid ideas,” and that felt great. Shout out anything. We would just write it on the white board. If someone said one idea, it often lead to the next idea and made me think of something else. This is powerful team creativity and brainstorming.

    In general, I think two heads is better than one but it’s important to remember that you’re there to be productive and to not thwart certain ideas or people. Great post!

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