When you increase the density, you increase the likelihood of collisions. Collisions of diverse people and ideas are a fertile source of creativity and innovation. Increasing the density of the ideas flowing in networks in your organisation will deliver a creative dividend.
Vibrant cities are rich sources of innovation because they bring together people and act as nodes in global transportation and knowledge networks. Into these cities pour people and ideas that collide to create new ideas, ventures and new activity.
The best teams that I have seen have this same dense, diverse and frenetic level of interaction. They are also equally creative. The constant collision of ideas and new interactions of people drives the growth of the organisation. These are organisations where people actually want more meetings and more talk because of the creative potential and the ability to leap forward in solving shared challenges. Creative interactions help people to do more, better or faster.
Through Change Agents Worldwide, I am currently experiencing the incredible creativity of a dense network of interactions, even though I am the most remote member of this global network of Change Agents focused on helping organisations transition to the future of work. Every day, there is a firehose worth of insight, interaction & creativity. In February we will publish an e-book of contributions of the members of the network that was only conceived in the last month. The same level of creative collaboration and inspiration powers work for clients and the creative output of the whole network. The first face to face meeting of this network has not even happened yet.
Teams with dense idea networks and great creativity have a few things in common that can guide anyone seeking to increase the creative density of their organisation. Here are a few steps you can take:
- Strengthen common purpose: purpose pulls people together and gives them reasons to connect and engage more. Purpose underpins the creation and sharing of ideas.
- Increase connections: the more connected the organisation the more chance of a creative exchange. Knit your organisation together and ensure everyone is well connected.
- Increase energy: the more energy, the more ideas move; the more ideas move, the more collisions will occur. The energy of meeting a challenge together will create dense connections. Don’t go for energy for its own sake. Create purposeful intent, energy in collaboration and willingness to collide in pursuit of a goal.
- Be open: if you want interactions of people and ideas then the default should be open and transparent work. Put more ideas in flight and tear down barriers to the flow of knowledge. Openness also helps everyone to contribute and the group to pick up connections that might otherwise be missed.
- Be diverse: more experiences and background means more inputs more ideas in flight, more conflict and less groupthink.
- Orient outwards: there will be far more ideas in your conversations if you are drawing them in from outside. Let ideas out to return redoubled. New external provocations can help fire the creativity in a team.
- Value learning if you know everything, you are an endpoint. You are choosing to sit outside others’ efforts to learn and grow. You are no longer connecting and building on others’ ideas.
- Embrace chaos: a dense network of people connecting over ideas and action is never going to be neat and orderly. Bring order to the outputs if you need but don’t constrain the inputs or process in flight.
You can achieve these effects face to face in your organisation or you can use a tool like an enterprise social network to help your organisation increase creative density. Whatever you do, increase the flight of knowledge in the organisation and the creative collisions will follow.