Friction in a team bears innovation: Study

London, June 16 (IANS) Diversity that results in friction and disagreement in a team gives birth to innovative ideas, says a new study.

“The study reveals the secret to how some of the world’s most iconic video games were created. It was the diversity of the game developing team that made the difference,” said study leader professor David Stark from University of Warwick.

“Most people will say friction within a team is bad but what we’ve found from this research is that actually it’s a very good thing for creativity,” said Stark.

“But it needs social structural support to turn it into something productive — that is people who have worked with other people in the team previously,” he said.

“Say you put a team of developers together and you ask them to be inventive, but they’ve all been exposed to the same things in the past, that is, they’ve worked on similar games previously or for the same companies. Well, it’s not very likely they’ll come up with something new,” Stark added.

“You obviously need diversity in a team to stimulate creativity. However, if you put together a team where they’ve all been exposed to very different things, you have the potential to innovate,” he said.

“But there are also challenges for coordination within the group because there is such a range of backgrounds,” Stark added.

The ‘Big Data’ analysis looked at the people involved in every video game invented between 1979 and 2009 – a total of 23,422 titles – including their career backgrounds and who they had worked with in the past.

He also stated that truly ground-breaking games, where “critics positively embraced their unconventional concepts”, by studying tens of thousands of reviews.

Cross-referencing the two sets of data, Stark identified patterns which specifically linked the social arrangement of a team with the degree of innovation in the products they created.

“If two people don’t understand each other’s ideas, whilst there is friction, it can be positive and lead to innovation,” Stark said.

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