Build Creativity and Innovation by Blending Experts and Non-Experts

I came across a quote from author Bob Sutton that read, “At places where intense innovation happens, they often combine people who know a little with people who know too much. The tension between massive knowledge and fresh thinking can spark a fundamental breakthrough.”

This statement got me thinking about how many organizations handle brainstorming, ideation sessions. They bring the ‘best people’ into a room to figure it all out. Most of the time, the best people are the ones that know the most about the market, product uses, operations, etc.

They bring their significant expertise to the table, but also their baggage and blinders.

People that know a little, but not enough to be dangerous, come with a fresh perspective and different experiences that can bring the discussion and innovation in new directions.

However, there’s two items to really take into consideration with this process.

  1. For those that know a little about the issue, make certain they know their role and are comfortable with speaking their mind in the possible face of expertise and experience; and
  2. Set a culture/objective of the session, which will be properly facilitated, where the role, ideas and opinions of the less experienced people are valued and appreciated.

It may be difficult for the ‘experts’ to be questioned by those that don’t know a lot. However, if those experts humble themselves to be open to the comments that come forth, they can use their expertise in new ways. This can be quite fulfilling and educational for those experts.

Give such a mix of people in your brainstorming and strategy sessions a try. You may have some bumps early on, but it will be worth it to implement it in the long run.