Gather Ideas From Strangers, But Work Through Them With People Close To You

28 Sep 2022
The creative process, in any knowledge-based activity, is increasingly a collective process, and those who take charge of its development must know how to activate the most appropriate personal ties at each stage.

Originally found at

In an article in Academy of Management Journal, Pier Vittorio Mannucci (Bocconi Department of Management and Technology) and Jill E. Perry-Smith (Emory University), conducted a series of experiments and found that:

In the idea generation phase, weak ties (emotionally distant individuals included in our network—the "acquaintances") are the most useful, because they expose us to unusual, stimulating and varied perspectives and points of view, opening a range of possibilities, from which the idea to be developed can be determined.

In the following phase of idea elaboration, it is best to activate the strongest ties, i.e., the people who are emotionally closest (friends, partners), because they tend to focus on our idea, criticizing it in a constructive way, and taking a proactive role in pointing out (only) the relevant information.

Relying on strong ties in the generation phase, risks not receiving enough stimulation and pursuing mediocre ideas. Relying on weak ties in the elaboration phase risks distraction from additional, continuous stimuli, or being discouraged by criticism that is not always well-founded, or even abandoning ideas that would have turned out to be good.

A larger personal network is also less manageable, with the paradoxical consequence of reliance almost exclusively on stronger ties, thus compromising the idea generation phase.

In situations perceived as risky, people tend, again, to activate only the strongest ties.

In 2017, Mannucci and Perry-Smith described the so-called "idea journey" [Academy of Management Review] as a four-stage process: generation, elaboration, championing, and implementation. In their newly published paper, they focus on the first two phases, because they are the ones with the highest relational content.

Continue reading the original article at

Read the original research in Academy of Management Review and Academy of Management Journal.

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