Connecting A + B with C–and WWW
What a lot of experiences a week can bring! Last Tuesday I was in A (Aix en Provence) for Béatrice Toustou’s PhD defence of her thesis on collaborative creative processes in industrial R&D labs; this Tuesday I was in B (Berlin) putting collaborative creativity into practice with my colleagues. In between, I was in Gothenburg, presenting the fruits of collaborative creativity in the form of our new edited volume on artistic interventions in organizations. In all of these, the/a WWW played an important role.
What happened in A (Aix en Provence) last week? Béatrice Toustou presented the key findings from her research, in which she interviewed researchers in a corporate R&D lab in order to understand how they experience the creative process. The thesis is too rich to summarize here, so I am only citing two points that are resonating particularly strongly with me now, leaving the rest for the reader to discover when the research is published (soon to appear in the form of journal articles):
- The respondents experience the creative process as depending on many types of social interactions; they do not perceive it as the work of lonely heroes. Social exchange is a primary source of creativity. So HR practices that emphasize the individual over the collective risk being counterproductive;
- The respondents identify several dimensions that do not usually appear in the literature on creativity, which focuses definitions on criteria of newness and usefulness, namely risk, elegance and play.
Without the WWW this PhD defense could not have taken place because one of the members of the committee had to participate from Montreal via skype.
What happened in B (Berlin) last night? I thought I was invited to an office pre-Christmas party, but it turned out to be a collective brainstorming session. What directions could our research take in the coming years? There is no way that any of us alone could have answered this big question. But together, in a mixture of earnestness and play, we developed ideas. The whiteboard (which Béatrice’s respondents also often cited as a space for creative processes) gradually filled up with ideas. Formulations were tested and rejected; elegance was sometimes an implicit criterion (e.g., how does that combination of concepts sound?). One item remains in my mind as particularly appealing intellectually and aesthetically: Werte, Wissenschaft, Wandel… i.e., WWW
And in between in G (Gothenburg)? For once, the WWW no longer mattered for our book project. The three editors, several authors and the book itself were all in the same room at last, after a year of having communicated via E-Mail and skype across continents to write and revise our chapters.
Artistic Interventions in Organizations: Research, Theory and Practice
Edited by Ulla Johansson-Sköldberg, Jill Woodilla and Ariane Berthoin Antal
Published by Routledge (series on Research in Cultural and Creative Industries)
Available at a much more reasonable price as E-book!