Creativity is an ability of making a novel connection between previously related or unrelated thoughts – applying knowledge and creating value. Can one person do it? Of course, the creative individual is hoping for the “Eureka!” moment in his or her own mind while mulling over the same problem again and again.

But a strong creative team typically outperforms the gifted creative individual.

The best creative teams listen carefully to each other’s widely differing views, exchange personal experiences and share powerful analogies.

The optimal size for a creative team is three. Anything smaller lacks the diversity to generate creative perspectives, and will seem under-resourced. Larger teams suffer from complexity of coordination

Selecting the mix of individuals that have the highest chance of finding an innovative solution is an overlooked skill – it is a mix of art and science that often comes from a gut instinct.

We need people with quicksilver minds who produce quickly, and are great fun to work with – an exploratory mindset, passion and purpose.

Select people whose experience is both deep and broad – knowing one field well brings knowledge of what it takes to really make a difference that goes beyond easy and superficial solutions.

Key elements to consider are:

Similar calibre – For the team to challenge each other, the team members need to be well-matched, able to look each other in the eye, disagree where they see fit, and challenge one another

Co-creation ability – A sufficiently compatible approach to the creative process, including the ability to listen to and build on each other’s ideas, to embrace mistakes as opportunities, to let go of what is not working and not to be ‘married’ to ideas or take criticism personally.

Diversity in ways of thinking – At the heart of the creative team process is combining crazy unrelated ideas. It is crucial to bring together differences in backgrounds, expertise, and ways of thinking.


Creative leadership brings the team to the edge, but not over it.

In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela compares his style of leading to shepherding: “The shepherd stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow.” When the path is unknown, which is true by definition when seeking breakthrough innovation, leading from behind means facilitating a process of iteration and continuous discovery.

Creative leadership always ensures meritocracy: that ideas don’t get extra weight because of who came up with them.

The most important leadership skills are presence and focus on observation and ability to make decisions without having all analytics proven.

Creative leadership includes ensuring the team does not lose its momentum. Creative leadership is being both tough and caring, creating safety and encouragement when needed, and building up tension or throwing things slightly off kilter at other times.

Amela Koluder / OSLO