Is creativity best suited as a solitary endeavor or collaborative effort? The answer is not as simple as choosing one or the other, rather it is best answered as; it depends. In an organizational setting creativity is most often associated with idea generation therefore the generation of new ideas is at the core of many types of work (Wang, Cosley & Fussell, 2010). Wang, Cosley & Fussell (2010) also argue that “identifying new ideas can be difficult due to individual’s limited vision, knowledge, experience, motivation, and time. Thus collaborative teamwork that pools and integrates efforts from multiple individuals is considered a useful way to approach creativity.” (pg. 103). Collaborative efforts are social in nature and thus require a degree of openness in each participant to function appropriately. This openness has been identified as the most important personality correlate to creativity as is associated with; intellectual curiosity, imagination, artistic interests, liberal attitudes, and originality (McCrae, 1987). While collaboration does seem to equate with openness and the typical personality associated with the extrovert the terms I just provided as examples to openness are reflective of openness to ideas which is a trait of introversion.
Moreover, many of the activities associated with creativity are solitary in nature such as; daydreaming, meditating, fantasizing, planning, thinking, theorizing, imagining, observing, and reflecting, reading, drawing, researching and writing (Helgoe, 2008). As leaders it is our job to ensure the creative dispositions of all our followers are enhanced and to encourage everyone to develop their creativity as a matter of corporate strategy (Xu & Rickards, 2007). To do so goes beyond leader support and the desire to increase diversity it means allowing each follower to be themselves, to be different than us, to be unique, and maybe even make us uncomfortable. Comfort and creativity rarely mix.
Helgoe, L. (2008). Introvert power. Naperville, Il: Sourcebooks.
McCrae, R. R. (1987). Creativity, divergent thinking, and openness to experience. Journal of personality and social psychology, 52(6), 1258.
Wang, H. C., Cosley, D., & Fussell, S. R. (2010). Idea Expander: Supporting group brainstorming with conversationally triggered visual thinking stimuli. In Proceedings of the 2010 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. 103-106.
Xu, F., & Rickards, T. (2007). Creative management: A predicted development from research into creativity and management. Creativity and Innovation Management, 16(3), 216-228.