Boosting creativity on your team - Deepstash

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When Generalists Are Better Than Specialists, and Vice Versa

Boosting creativity on your team

Boosting creativity on your team

Research is divided on the best way to boost creativity on a team.

  • Studies have found that great ideas come from combining insights from unrelated fields. Based on this thinking, a team can become more creative by encouraging employees to explore new areas or by hiring people who have a variety of experiences.
  • Yet, other studies found that it is the specialists who can better spot emerging opportunities. They suggest that it is better to hire employees with deep expertise in specific areas.

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The era of problem-solving generalists
The era of problem-solving generalists

From an era of specialized workers having expertise in one particular activity, the professional world has slowly moved towards problem-solving generalists. Workers are asked to don differe...

The pursuit of mastery

Mastery, once a sought-after attribute, is falling out of favour, according to the 2016 World Economic Forum report, and is slowly clearing the field for employees who can:

  • Have a diverse set of skills.
  • Can display the mental agility to switch between tasks.
  • Are able to pivot towards a new problem or activity.
  • Can take on a variety of roles at a short notice.
Expertise decline consequences

With the value of true expertise in serious decline, and the economy evolving towards a different set of requirements from employees, the impact on college education, career paths, worker safety, employability and even the nature of work is going to be profound.

Chaos Theory
Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory is a mathematical toolkit that allows us to extract ordered structures from chaos. The theory can reveal the intricate workings of such diverse natural systems as the beating of the hu...

Tiny variations vastly affect the outcome

Order on a small scale can produce chaos on a larger scale. In systems that behave without chaotic effects, small differences could eventually increase in size until they produce large effects - the hallmark of a chaotic system.

Meteorologist Edward Lorenz made this profound discovery when he attempted to predict the weather more accurately using a mathematical model. He found that rounding numbers off to three decimal places significantly changed the course of his weather predictions. Lorenz famously illustrated this effect with the analogy of a butterfly flapping its wings, thereby causing a hurricane formation elsewhere.

Understanding the butterfly effect

A good way to see the butterfly effect is with a game of billiards. No matter how consistent you are with the first shot, the smallest of differences in the speed and angle with which you strike the white ball will cause the balls to scatter in different directions every time.

What at first appears to be random behavior is completely deterministic. It only seems random because changes that are hardly noticeable are making all the difference.

The #1 New York Times bestseller that has all America talking: as seen/heard on Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, The Bill Simmons Podcast, Rich Roll, and more. Shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award “The most important business—and parenting—book of the year.” —Forbes “Urgent and important. . . an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance.” —Daniel H. Pink “So much crucial and revelatory information about performance, success, and education.” —Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet “As David Epstein shows us, cultivating range prepares us for the wickedly unanticipated… a well-supported and smoothly written case on behalf of breadth and late starts.” —Wall Street Journal Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule. David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.
‘Kind’ vs ‘wicked’ learning environments
‘Kind’ vs ‘wicked’ learning environments

Learning environments can be split into two:

  • The kind ones, where patterns repeat and specialists get better with experiences, such as in chess.
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Cognitive entrenchment and abstract thinking

Modern work demands knowledge transfer and abstract thinking, things which are not being actively taught in our highly-specialized academic curriculums.

It’s harder to be creative in a field the longer you have been studying it. It is best to insist on ’having one foot outside your world', to try to have broad interests and not focus on solely one thing in your learning path.

Breadth of training predicts breadth of transfer

Children who try their hand at playing multiple instruments have a higher chance of becoming elites in one (even if they specialize later in life) than those who have been presented with a particular instrument from a very early age.

The figlie of the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice are good example of that.