innovation and discipline

major studies have shown that creativity has much more to do with the stimulation of proper critical thinking than with a good brainstorming session.

One of these studies was developed by the psychologist at the University of California, Charlan Nemeth. You can read the study here.

It divided into groups of 5 people and randomly 265 women university students. Each group assigned the same task (thinking ideas to reduce traffic congestion in San Francisco Bay) but with different ways of working that task.

The first methodology was to use brainstorming. The second was based on giving absolute freedom to approach the subject as they would like. The third way of working was based on questioning all the ideas that were coming out in the group.

The results left no doubt. Groups that disagreed and criticized gained 25% more ideas than groups with the other two methodologies. Later studies have shown that dissenting groups generate more productive and imaginative ideas.

Dr Nemeth’s conclusions are that “the basic finding is that encouraging discussion and even criticism seems to stimulate the creation of more ideas”

This inevitably leads us to believe that organizations that stimulate and facilitate the expression of divergent points of view and question them adequately will be much more innovative.

While innovation is born of creativity understood as the art of connecting things, as Steve Jobs said, innovation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the success of a project. This evidence that is scientifically endorsed is not usually liked by many organizations.


Jim Collins in Great by Choice explains how neither Polaroid was the first to invent the instant camera nor Gillette the pioneer in inventing the razor blade. The key to these companies was not only in innovation but in discipline. It’s no use creating something great if you then implement it flawlessly.

As expressed by Matthew Syed in his book Thinking Black Box: “Leaders need innovation and discipline, imagination to see the big picture and concentration to perceive the details.

“The great goal, seldom achieved, is to combine creative intensity with relentless discipline to amplify creativity rather than destroy it” Jim Collins

For this reason, in a world that changes so fast, not only can we respond with innovation, but with the discipline necessary for that response to be of high quality, efficient and that comes to solve in a context and a certain moment, a problem Which before could not be worked out because the existing ideas or technologies could not be connected.

innovation: discipline as the key

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