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It has been for long only known that structured knowledge organizes human activities and boosts efficiency. But, a new study by two researchers from the University of Toronto concludes that structured knowledge can kill creativity.

Through several experiments, they showed that participants, who had to accomplish tasks using categorized information, displayed less cognitive flexibility and creativity, than those who were not provided with categorized info.  

They also found that those participants in the group of organized information spent less time on their tasks. This suggests decreased persistence, an important ingredient for creativity.

Leaders of multi-disciplinary teams which display inconsistent rates of innovation may derive application from these findings. The lack of innovation of the team members may be owed to their way of organizing ideas on the basis of area of expertise, functional similarity, or discipline.

Kim, one of the researchers, says "We suggest people put their ideas randomly on a white board and then think about some of their connections". The researchers conclude that those working in creative industries need to be vigilant about their tendency to categorize info rather than efficiency itself.

The paper is to be published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.


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