Generating Creativity in Teams: An Exploratory Case Study Open Access
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This study examined the process of team creativity in the workplace as it relates to experiential, cognitive, and social factors, including organizational and cultural structures, team social dynamics, and effects on individuals. Its purpose was to understand the quality of real-time social interactions and dynamics underlying the creative process in teams. The researcher employed a case study methodology, using observation and individual and focus group interviews of a highly creative team within an organization in a creative industry. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. The study had seven major findings: (1) the team actively integrated elements of play during initial interactions; (2) the setting provided a “play” environment that encouraged team members to view things from different perspectives; (3) the play mood that was initiated in early meetings accelerated team bonding and trust and consequently facilitated the emergence of creativity in subsequent meetings; (4) through the active integration of available resources and tools over time, team members generated novel ways of interacting with the environment; (5) the introduction of externally induced stress caused an abrupt shift from playful to task-oriented behaviors; (6) the final solution emerged gradually through incremental integration of ideas proposed by individual team members over time; and (7) all team members took part in developing elements of the final work product based on their individual strengths and preferences. Conclusions include the following: (1) the creative process incorporates play as a behavioral orientation; (2) the creative process is enabled by a combination of autonomy and constraint; (3) the creative process combines significant aspects of experiential and social learning expressed through the reciprocal interaction of the environment, personal and cognitive factors, and behavior; and (4) team member alignment around shared values helps facilitate social dynamics and the creative process. This study sheds new insight on the transdisciplinary nature of the creativity phenomenon that integrates creativity, play, adult learning, and general systems theories. Recommendations for practice and research include, but are not limited to, integrating this study’s findings into existing innovative team learning models (e.g., action learning) and developing an inquiry-based design to generating creativity in organizations.