Give Credit for an Idea to the Whole Group to Encourage Collaboration

Author

Eric Ravenscraft

October 10, 2014

Your ideas are special to you. You want to get credit for them. However, in many cases, trying to vie for credit on a big breakthrough only discourages collaboration down the road. Give the whole group credit and encourage them to work together more.

As design blog Misc explains, the best ideas and breakthroughs are increasingly created by groups rather than individuals. Cross-discipline collaboration (like between the design and tech teams) turns out a better result than either group could do on its own. From that perspective, encouraging individuals to take credit for specific ideas makes them more personal and thus less likely to move fluidly with the ideas of others:

You would never leave urban planning to architects alone. Architects tend to prefer buildings over the people who use them, and that is why so much architecture seems ill-suited to the humans who have to live and work in it. You would never leave product development in the hands of a social scientist unless you didn’t care about the product’s perceived utility, which is entirely dependent on its form factor. And we’ve all seen what happens when you leave software entirely to engineers: it ends up being designed for engineers, not for ordinary people.

There is another benefit to bringing different disciplines to the problem-solving table. A key technique for achieving breakthrough is through contextual juxtaposition. When ideas, objects, processes and principles from one context are juxtaposed against those of another, there exists the potential for a kind of dialectical transformation. Seeing the problem through another discipline’s lenses gives one the permission to think outside the norms and boundaries of one’s own. It allows us to see things anew and to transform the combination of hitherto disparate inputs and perspectives into ideas and experiences that did not exist before the different disciplines were brought together.

If you’re a boss in your organization, it still couldn’t hurt to give the individuals you manage some specific attention and appreciation for their contribution. But remember that putting credit on individuals creates competition between them. Giving credit to the group can create a “We’re in this together” mentality.

Breakthroughs Belong to No One | Misc Magazine via 99u

Photo by Normal Lear Center.

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