Creativity and Innovation Management ? Competition versus Collaboration

There is much confusion as to whether competition or collaboration is most beneficial to creativity and innovation. Though there are negatives to collaboration and it is not easy separating the effects of time pressure and group activity, in general collaboration beats competition. This article will set out some of the arguments.

a) Competition forces some individuals to produce a greater number of ideas than they would do otherwise. But crucially, competition forces other people to shut down. Exactly who raises their game and who shuts down depends on the game, the rules, the competencies, the level of evaluation anxiety and other factors. People choose which areas they want to compete in.

b) When forced to produce, through competition, people are more likely to be non-synergistically extrinsically motivated ? that is they may produce to fulfil an ulterior motive but the activity leaves them feeling controlled and dependent and they do not tend to engage in the task to the degree necessary for rich insights.

c) Competition causes individuals to withhold information and thus reduces the degree of intellectual cross-pollination, networking and collaboration required to achieve the best ideas.

d) Most competition doesn't allow the mind to incubate problems long enough for truly rich insights to emerge. Some of the richest insights have occurred when the individual is distant from the problem, rested and engaged in unrelated activities.

e) Competition increases evaluation apprehension, which causes a reduction of expression and lower risk taking and higher levels of conformity. This is not conducive to good idea generation.

f) Competition causes individuals to generate ideas according to the value system indicated at the start, reducing lateral thinking, decreasing the number of diverse and novel ideas and lowering the separation of creative from critical thinking.

g) Collaboration is much more valuable during the innovation stage (idea selection, development and commercialisation), where the competencies of many people are required to successfully commercialise.

These topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased (along with a Creativity and Innovation DIY Audit, Good Idea Generator Software and Power Point Presentation) from http://www.managing-creativity.com. You can also receive a regular, free newsletter by entering your email address at this site.

Kal Bishop, MBA

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You are free to reproduce this article as long as no changes are made and the author's name and site URL are retained.

Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on http://www.managing-creativity.com.

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