Collaborative Innovation: What Turns It Off And What Turns It On
Edward O. Wilson (2012) describes the quality of eusociality, shared with ants, bees and termites, where a species instinctively acts as a collective in order to achieve benefits for both the individuals and the group. We are also the most socially engaged and communicatively developed species (Frith & Frith, 2010, Levinson & Holler, 2014). The question regarding how we might become more collaborative and innovative, may be better framed as, “What happened in our socio-cultural development that de-normalized collaboration and innovation and normalized individual and even isolated behavior?”
What Separates Us
Philosophies, such as solipsism, have argued the separateness of the human mind and therefore human experience. Solipsism describes being self-centered or selfish as reasonable, based on the idea that the self cannot be aware of anything other than itself and that an individual cannot be sure of anything outside their own mind (Oxford Dictionary, 2019). This concept originally emerged from Greek pre-Socratic sophist, Gorgias (c. 483–375 BC) (Craig, 1995).
Accepting this proposition, and it is arguably one of the foundations of various cultures, including the USA where the individual is, ostensibly, expected to succeed independently. On this basis, it is not difficult to imagine the development of a social belief that connection between individuals is optional, potentially unrewarding or an interference, and difficult. Over time, such a belief is likely to interfere with our natural inclination toward collaboration creating a perception of reality based more on distrust and fear of others than on collaboration which has become reframed as an interference to the individual’s pathway to social, political and economic success.
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