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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Creativity and Empowerment - do teams benefit from disruption?

It’s great to see The Disruption Innovation Festival curated by the Ellen McArthur Foundation taking off.  Colin Webster  facilitated some great workshops as part of the first Emporium of Dangerous Ideas, and really helped shape thinking around the circular economy.   Good luck for the coming three weeks.
It was quite by co-incidence that I came across the festival on the same day as I was reading a wonderful paper on  'Value Creation:  Disruption and Empowerment  to support Creativity in-the-Wild', sent to me by one of the authors, Alison Williams. The title alone contains many of my favourite words!  I was particularly struck by the issue around the role of disruption in teams and how the team’s creative response can be predicated to some extent by the level of empowerment experienced by the team: “when the team perceives itself to be empowered – either by its manager or by itself – then the opportunities afforded by the disruption are perceived and can acted upon. This leads to flow and increased levels of creativity an performance:.. a creative cycle.”  The opposite would appear to be true in that a team that is not regarded by itself or a manager as empowered," the affordances of disruption are disregarded or unseen, leading to stasis with decreased levels of creativity and performance: a degenerative cycle”.
At a time of great upheaval in the college sector, and the public services in general I wonder how much teams are supported to use the prevailing disruptions as a purposeful means of generating creative ideas?  Is there a tendency to avoid or suppress disruption resulting in ‘groupthink’ and where “politeness [driven by fear] seems to reinforce rule-following behaviour.”
Trust would seem to be a key factor in determining how a team responds to disruption, along with the ability to have open, honest conversations and a shared vision.

I’m interested in your experiences in teams and whether the idea of the disruptive and empowering space is one we should be exploring next year’s Emporium. If so, how could we do that?

Please click on the link below to read Alison Williams’ full article.

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