Collaboration as the go-to creative method

There appears to be a quick “trick” for invoking creative insights in our lives. It is simply: collaboration.

Consider this notion in-full for a moment, particularly if you want to introduce more creativity into your life.

Creativity in the fields of science, engineering, innovation, and even some artistic forms – such as writing and design – rely heavily on unique perspectives that converge and diverge in an almost melodic way. The reason is simple: it’s when we are able to alter our perception of the world that creative insights make themselves known.

To be creative is, after-all, a method of seeing what we have already seen in a new light. Or, in some instances, seeing what we couldn’t see before as a result of turning on a new, mental, light.

Michael Michalko, a famed creative researcher and author, once wrote: “What Copernicus [and] Darwin really achieved was not the discovery of a new theory, but a fertile new point of view.” Michalko explains here that Darwin’s world-changing view of evolution stemmed not from simple, pre-established ideas, but from looking at what was already known about life from an entirely new perspective.

Changing your perspective can be difficult, however. As I’ve written before:

“To be creative, we have to question how we think, often at the risk of being wrong (one way or the other).”

Fortunately there is a fairly straight-forward and nearly effortless way to expand your perspective: consider someone else’s.

Myth of the Lone Genius

Your experiences in life have impacted what you think and how you think it. You are fairly fixed to those perceptions because of the experiences you’ve had. This can make thinking creatively difficult. However, for everyone on this Earth there is a unique perspective.

All it takes is you openly working with someone else, hearing their perspective and how they think, to expand your own understanding. This inevitably leads to creative insights.

This method of pursuing creativity is often shunned however, particularly in the Western society where we idolize the “lone genius.”

In a snippet from his book, The Innovators, Walter Isaacson explains how collaboration is the key to innovation, despite the fact that the lone inventor or genius is a better story to tell:

“The computer and the Internet are among the most important inventions of our era, but few people know who created them. They were not conjured up in a garret or garage by solo inventors suitable to be put into a pantheon with Edison, Bell, and Morse. Instead, most of the innovations of the digital age were done collaboratively…The tale of their teamwork is important because we don’t often focus on how central that skill is to innovation.”

Perhaps you disagree with all of this. I would hope, in-fact, that you do. Because your unique perspective on the point can take us down a road where we either uncover that the point itself is true, or where we find enough flaws with it to abandon it and pursue an alternative method.

In the end, the premise remains: to be more creative you must adjust your perspective. To do that may be as simple as collaborating with someone who has a different outlook than you do.

As David Burkus explains in his book, The Myths of Creativity:

“Innovation doesn’t stem from wide-open spaces or from thinking outside the box. Instead, innovation happens when people work from inside the box, sometimes rethinking and reshaping the box entirely.”

Read this next: Why everyone isn’t creative all the time