KM vs Narcissism

Knowledge management (KM) attempts to enhance information sharing and an awareness of how knowledge is accumulated and used to create innovation. Keith Sawyer has written about applying the concepts of “flow” psychology to group collaborations in order to increase creative power. He also points out that group collaboration is in fact responsible for most of the advancement of civilization in history. A study from the University of Amsterdam shows that while groups often select leaders with narcissistic qualities, those same traits can inhibit knowledge sharing.

Narcissists look like good leaders — but they aren’t – [machineslikeus.com]

Narcissists rise to the top. That’s because other people think their qualities—confidence, dominance, authority, and self-esteem—make them good leaders.

Is that true? “Our research shows that the opposite seems to be true,” says Barbora Nevicka, a PhD candidate in organizational psychology, describing a new study she undertook with University of Amsterdam colleagues Femke Ten Velden, Annebel De Hoogh, and Annelies Van Vianen. The study found that the narcissists’ preoccupation with their own brilliance inhibits a crucial element of successful group decision-making and performance: the free and creative exchange of information and ideas. The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Group Genius – The Creative Power of Collaboration – [wustl.edu]
Excerpt from Group Genius
Introduction: Beyond the Lone Genius

Along the way I collected stories of significant innovations—both historical, like the airplane and the telegraph, and contemporary, like email and the mountain bike. And I made a fascinating discovery: Even though these products didn’t result from a single conversation, their historical emergence followed the same process as an improvised conversation–with small sparks gathering together over time, multiple dead ends, and the reinterpretation of previous ideas.

These innovations all result from an invisible collaborative web, and in this book I draw on my research—including the lessons of improv theater—and the work of other social scientists to make this collaborative web visible. I begin in Part 1 by taking you on a journey through amazing examples of creative collaboration—from earthquake and hurricane disaster response networks, to military teams, to pick-up basketball games. I use these to show that the most effective collaborations are improvisational—just like the work of the Chicago group iO that appeared on CNN’s 2006 special.

But only certain kinds of collaboration work in the real world—improvisations that are guided and planned, but in a way that doesn’t kill the power of improvisation to generate unexpected insights. For example, studies of brainstorming have shown that in most cases this popular technique is a waste of time. The truth is that, despite the proliferation of advice in the business press, many companies don’t know how to foster creative collaboration. Fortunately, today’s research tells us how. For example, I show that improvised innovation is more likely to work when a group experiences group flow—the group equivalent of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous “flow” state, when we perform at our peak and lose track of time. And I show how to build brainstorming groups that realize their full creative potential.

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