Hands-on practice increases creativity in teams

Topic: Creativity, Teams
Publication: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (MAR 2010) Article: First, get your feet wet: The effects of learning from direct and indirect experience on team creativity
Authors: F. Gino, L. Argote, E. Miron-Spektor, G. Todorova
Reviewed By: Jared Ferrell

It is a widely accepted fact that experience leads to creativity, but the question posited by the authors in this study was whether a certain type of experience leads to more creativity. This study focused on differences in team creativity between teams who had direct task experience (learning by doing), indirect task experience (vicarious learning), or no task experience.

The authors found that teams with direct and indirect experience were more creative than teams with no task experience.  They also found that teams with direct task experience were significantly more creative than teams who had indirect task experience.  This gives evidence that learning by observing others is not the optimal way to instill creativity in employees.

The authors suggest that this may happen because people with indirect task experience do not fully understand the whole process behind why something was done or what other possible solutions there were to a certain problem; things upon which those with direct task experience would have a better grasp.

The authors also emphasize a practical example; organizations who outsource R&D may also be experiencing hidden costs to creativity that occur due to the outsourced R&D teams not having direct task experience that domestic teams would have.  Clearly, these results have serious practical implications for organizations that are looking to assemble creative teams.

Gino, F., Argote, L., Miron-Spektor, E., & Todorova, G. (2010). First, get your feet wet: The effects of learning from direct and indirect experience on team creativity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 111(2), 102-115.