Creativity is a team sport. It is not a solo event.
When you try to generate creative ideas all by yourself, you’re sitting in a vacuum. You aren’t making the most of the resources at your disposal!
However, if you leverage the brainpower of other people, you can boost your creative output in amazing ways.
So, how do you start using teamwork to become more innovative?
Ask one question: “Will you help me?”
Asking for help is one of the most underutilized resources available to us. We’re afraid to ask for help because we think they’re going to say no when, in fact, most of the time they will say yes!
The study that proved this was conducted at Columbia University. In the study, participants asked random strangers to escort them to the university gym. Before they started their task, the participants estimated they would have to ask between seven and eight people before one of them would agree. However, the study showed that they needed to ask just two people on average before they received help. This proved that other people are willing to help when asked to, even if they’re complete strangers.
How to Ask for Help in the Context of Creativity
There are 5 patterns of innovation. When you use those patterns, an important process step is to make a list of components around the situation that you’re innovating. This is the first scenario where you can ask somebody for help.
Let’s say you generate your list of components and you now need to pick one to start manipulating. In that situation, you should ask someone for help. Ask them to randomly pick a number between 1 and the number of components on your list. This can help because, if left to your own devices, you’re likely to pick a component that is not going to be a very good choice because of your cognitive bias and fixedness.
Another place in which asking for help is beneficial to creativity is when you are creating what I call “the virtual product.” You create a somewhat crazy configuration and then try to think of the benefits or reasons that your idea or concept might be valuable. This is an opportunity to find someone around you and ask them to take a look at it and tell you what they see as beneficial about it. Their opinion could be very helpful to your innovation.
To hear more on asking for help, listen to the full podcast episode here: Episode 040: The Most Underutilized Resource in Creative Thinking.