Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.
The paper, from researchers at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, gives a particular focus to how we structure information within our organizations. It challenges the notion that structured, organized information is a good thing, despite the increased ease with which such information can be used.
“A hierarchically organized information structure may also have a dark side,” the authors warn.
The dark side of structured information
Across a series of experiments, the researchers found that participants showed lower creativity levels when asked to work with information that was tightly categorized than they did when asked to work with messier data. What’s more, those in the structured group also spent less time on the task than their unstructured peers, which with perseverance a key characteristic of creativity, it is another worrying sign.
So what are the implications of the findings? The authors suggest that leaders of multi-disciplinary teams should be particularly interested, as such teams often struggle to innovate. The authors believe a major stumbling block for such teams is their tendency to continue organizing information and ideas according to the norms of their function or area or expertise.
“We suggest people put their ideas randomly on a white board and then think about some of their connections,” they say. Our tendency to categorize information rather than efficiency itself is what those working in creative industries need to be most on guard about, the researchers say.
Article source: How structured information can diminish creativity.
- Kim, Y. J., & Zhong, C. B. (2017). Ideas rise from chaos: Information structure and creativity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 138, 15-27. ↩