Many aspects of group creativity remain blurred, as elaborated here. A prominent case is the phenomenon of intragroup disagreements, hitherto interpreted and researched in the context of group conflict. The output is a partially contradictory and inconsistent body of knowledge. Particularly, no conclusion has been provided on whether task conflict is beneficial or detrimental to creative processes. It is, indeed, difficult to provide general, clear and well-founded prescriptions regarding collaboration engineering and the design of appropriate support systems.
Analogies from the world of improvisational art and music turn out to provide essential clues that help with understanding creative group processes. In particular, we build upon the Jazz Improvisation (JI) metaphor already considered in a variety of contexts, while drawing comparison between Design Thinking (DT) teamwork and spontaneous jam sessions with all its characteristics.
In particular, we look at harmony. In music, it focuses on occurrences of dissonance and consonance, and dependency between them. Through analysis of the music theory, as well as studies in the context of DT, we work on adapting this analogy to design teams. In parallel, we develop harmony-inspired IT components and design JI-informed teamwork practices, to be evaluated in multiple contexts. By following this plan, we aim at addressing the following questions.
1. How do long-term harmony and creative performance of design teams relate to each other?
2. How might we support teams at maintaining harmony in long-term projects?
In spite of the harmony-centric issues introduced above, the project has been established to shed light on the improvisational practices in design teams and contribute to their holistic understanding. In that sense, we will also question the existence of other dimensions of music, such as rhythm and melody, in collective design or problem solving activities.
Overall, we envision a set of JI-informed work practices and software components following a consistent design theory. It shall help design teams with overcoming difficult and detrimental effects of group work, while preserving the open-mindedness and ambiguity characteristic for highly creative processes. A number of sub-projects, in form of diploma theses, particular field studies, and in-lab/in-class experiments, shall be launched to answer the requirements of the project.