Skip to main content

Too Much Structured Knowledge Hurts Your Creativity

Image result for chaos creativity

  Source:  DESIGN SNIP | DESIGN, MARKETING AND INNOVATION

As has been pointed out  many times, too much knowledge is a bad thing.

Why?

Research by John-Erik Mathisen & Jan Ketil Arnulf of the BI Norwegian Business School from among other studies shows that graduates with a Masters in Business Administration demonstrate LESS creativity than non-MBA graduates.

The reason is simple: our educational system focuses on training students in logically linear thought processes, while creativity and innovation involves lateral thinking, seeing connections between seemingly unconnected ideas.

For example, before Einstein linked them, physicists from the time of Newton saw little if no relationship between energy, E, and mass, M.  In his 1905 paper on optics Einstein showed the specific relationship in his equation E=MC2, the relationship being the speed of light squared.  Big idea, perhaps the biggest of the twentieth century.

Had Einstein relied on his knowledge of existing science, he would have missed the relationship.  He literally thought outside the box, which by the way, is known by researchers to be a great way to foster your creativity.

Get in a box, work on a problem.  Then get out of the box and work.  You'll be more creative.  (The same phenomena occurs if you're in a cubicle.  Get out of the cubicle while you're working on a problem.) 

Of course, as an entrepreneur or prospective business owner, there are certain things you must know.  according to tracking studies by Dun & Bradstreet in their now discontinued Business Failure Surveys there are two reasons businesses fail.  As we've pointed out in other posts, the two most common causes of business failure are:
  1. Lack of financial management skills and knowledge
  2. Lack of marketing skills and knowledge.

To read this full post, visit our blog page, The Facts of the Small Business Failure Rate

But, back to this study from the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management; here is the full press release on the study with a link to the full study.
*  *  *  *  *


Ideas rise from chaos:
Information structure and creativity.

Structure organizes human activities and help us understand the world with less effort, but it can be the killer of creativity, concludes a study from the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. 

While most management research has supported the idea that giving structure to information makes it easier to cope with its complexity and boosts efficiency, the paper says that comes as a double-edged sword.

"A hierarchically organized information structure may also have a dark side," warns Yeun Joon Kim, a PhD student who co-authored the paper with Chen-Bo Zhong, an associate professor of organizational behaviour and human resource management at the Rotman School.

The researchers showed in a series of experiments that participants displayed less creativity and cognitive flexibility when asked to complete tasks using categorized sets of information, compared to those asked to work with items that were not ordered in any special way. Those in the organized information group also spent less time on their tasks, suggesting reduced persistence, a key ingredient for creativity.

The researchers ran three experiments. In two, study participants were presented with a group of nouns that were either organized into neat categories or not, and then told to make as many sentences as they could with them.

The third experiment used LEGO® bricks. Participants were asked to make an alien out of a box of bricks organized by colour and shape or, in a scenario familiar to many parents, out of a box of unorganized bricks. Participants in the organized category were prohibited from dumping the bricks out onto a table.

The findings may have application for leaders of multi-disciplinary teams, which tend to show inconsistent rates of innovation, perhaps because team members may continue to organize their ideas according to functional similarity, area of their expertise, or discipline.

"We suggest people put their ideas randomly on a white board and then think about some of their connections," says Kim. 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.

Story Source:  Materials provided by University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management.  Yeun Joon Kim, Chen-Bo Zhong. Ideas rise from chaos: Informationstructure and creativity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 2017


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Facts of the Small Business Survival Rate

Back thirty years ago when I first wrote about small business, a hoary and horrible statistic was bandied about, even by some of the most experienced entrepreneurial pros: "80% of new businesses fail in their first five years." 

This "statistic" has appeared in more places than you can imagine, from the leading small business magazines, books, presentations by employees of SBDCs, the SBA, SCORE, Chambers of Commerce, even professors on the college level - who should know better than to quote un-sourced numbers.  It still shows up in small-business blogs today.

For some years, I searched for a source of that statisitic.  Never found where that number came from, leading me to believe that some self-appointed expert made it up.  To quote a character from the popular television show, M*A*S*H, "Horsepucky." 

Here is the truth about the survival rate of new start up businesses in the U.S. economy from two unimpeachable sources, The Marion Ewing Kauffman Foundati…

Earn a Living Shining Shoes. . . Really

Earning a Living as a Bootblack
Can someone make a living shining shoes in today's economy?  At on time there shoe shine boys as they were called were found on street corners across the country, thousands of them.  Many were from poor families and worked to help support themselves and their families.  Today, I found three established shoe shine stands in downtown Seattle, plus two bootblacks, the traditional name of those who shine shoes, working on the streets of Seattle.

Meet George Johnson, age 74 on October 20th, a self-employed operator of a shoe shine stand in downtown Seattle's Rainier Place.  George has been shining shoes for the last sixty years, starting in Arkansas and ending up some thirty years ago at the Washington Athletic club a few blocks from his current location.
"Sixty years," I asked him the day we met.  "You ever think of retiring?"

"Gonna work until I can't do it no more," he replied.  "I don't even think about i…

Illegal Immigrants Start Legal L.L.C.'s, Create Jobs While Awaiting Deportation

The situation is a little like a story from the Twilight Zone.

Illegal immigrants can't get driving licenses, vote, or get benefits, but they are legally able to start Limited Liability Companies often creating jobs for legal U.S. Citizens.  All the while waiting to find out if they are going to be deported because they are, admittedly in most cases, in this country illegally.

It's long established that new immigrants to the U.S. are far more likely to start a business, and in so doing, create jobs often filled by U.S. citizens.  I mean, the sun rises in the East, the sky is blue, and immigrants create jobs - it's that level of certainty.

So why do certain elements in Congress,  allegedly pro-business, pro-growth, and pro-job, scream and yell about immigration as though it's a total drain on the economy?  If anything, immigration has been and will continue to be a boon to our economy, creating both wealth, new jobs and even new industries.

Here's an article from the L…