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Integrating: Combining ideas

Creativity doesn’t just come from generating lots of ideas, it's also about being able to build on and combine ideas to create something new.
JULIA: So we agree. The message wasn’t clear, and there was no incentive for people. How can we improve this?
TOM: Think people could see it as an opportunity to get out of the house and go out for dinner. How about setting up as a place to go out and treat yourself.
MING: And will that work as a message for everyone?
TOM: It would work for me. But what’d do you have in mind?
MING: Personally, I think people might want to know more about the restaurant as a place where they spend their time with their family and friends.
JULIA: That’s a good point. What does everyone else think? Justin, you worked on the China project. What do you think?
JESS: Well, we conducted focus groups to work out what kind of message would work best. Perhaps we could do the same here.
PUVA: Absolutely, we should do a focus group. We should find out whether people prefer personal or social messages or maybe a hybrid of both.
CAT: Yeah, that should work. And of course, the restaurant should be able to come up with something that appeals to more people in the community.
JESS: It’s like a place where you could treat your family and friends.
TOM: Or treat the people you love. I include myself in the people I love.
JULIA: Yeah, we’re good. I think that’s good. So Puva, can you please work with Jess and Tom, make a clear plan, and come back with a proposal for the focus groups.
PUVA: Sure.
TOM: Excellent.
JULIA: Good, thank you, everyone.

Creativity doesn’t just come from generating lots of ideas, it’s also about being able to build on and combine ideas to create something new.

The third skill within the integrating process is about combining ideas.

Combining ideas is often recognised as an important way of developing more creative or novel solutions.

Even if diverse teams can get all members to participate in generating ideas, they often struggle to build on and integrate these.

This is partly due to differences in how team members interpret and evaluate the task and new information.

Cultural differences also explain why some team members (eg those who are from individualistic cultures) may push their ideas more strongly than others (eg those from collectivist cultures or from high power distance cultures).

Teams can also fail to build on their differences if there is low motivation to work collaboratively on other peoples’ ideas. Ongoing conflict creates a more negative atmosphere in the team.

How do we combine ideas?

The processes of mapping, bridging and integrating help us to establish relationships and norms that support collaboration.

Teams should also make a conscious effort to encourage the exploration and creation of new ideas, building on initial ideas.

But we can aim higher than that.

Don’t just compromise on solutions – aim to invent new ideas and find solutions to issues or problems that are acceptable to all.

This determined approach can help to drive the group to come up with better, novel solutions and approaches.

Your task

Let’s revisit our case study team again.

Watch the new video and consider how successfully, or unsuccessfully, they have applied the three main skills of integrating:

  • Empowering participation
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Combining ideas.

Share your thoughts in the comments and discuss these with other learners.

This article is from the free online

Leading Culturally Diverse Teams in the Workplace

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