I spent the day yesterday listening to the diverse experiences of four leading interdisciplinary collaborators, as selected by a community of over 450 other noted interdisciplinary practitioners. This was part of a Nesta research project which is still in it’s early days so I won’t attempt to summarise the findings here just yet.
However one thing occurred to me as the day progressed to be a common thread in each person’s experience. Namely that successful interdisciplinary collaboration thrives in an environment with clear boundaries or controls around process and behaviours, but limited or no controls around the legitimacy or control of ideas.
For me this was an interesting insight as in setting up new collaborations we often spend a lot of time imposing controls over the ideas, but not enough contrals around the process and environment. These collaborations then often fail due to distrust or disagrements around the intellectual property or different intellectual perspectives. A much more productive collaboration would flourish with infrastructure and incentives that liberate the cross fertilisation of ideas through a clear set of boundaries and process.
What’s your experience? Are we looking to control the wrong thing?