Collective memory and creativity

 4 minute read

People are social creatures. Human environment consists of their individual and collective memory. Being able to understand the collective memory creation allows to manage the future. Will the collective memory built differently at the age of Internet? Does the future of leadership change with it?

The details of
Collective Memory

What creates peoples opinions and acts as a foundation of their values? The societal opinion and discussions are the combination of many factors that include history, climate, education level, well-being, economy, and many others. Jan Assmann, a German Egyptologist, has explored collective memory and collective identity. All of those are mainly derived from collective memory. In fact, oral communicative memory and physically captured cultural one, both create the collective memory itself.

Communicative memory lives for three generations lasting for about 80-100 years. It is unstructured and has personal nature. Living in everyday interaction and communication, it can vary between persons and social groups. Created by the community, communicative memory has a limited time depth. One of the example of the phenomena is a pop-culture. While pop-culture influences everyday life, it rarely has the power to transform the culture. Rather the music and lyrics are derived from the deeper traditional and cultural ideas. Nevertheless, the communicative memory can have a stronger impact by transitioning to cultural one.

The written history has a stronger influence on shaping the worldview. Cultural memory is institutionalized and, once created, has long-term consequences that reach large groups of people. As Assmann puts it, cultural memory is intrinsically related to power and tradition. Being regulated, cultural memory was led by its time leaders like shamans, priests, artists, scholars, mullah and others. The participants who create cultural memory are usually elites of the society who has an access to restricted information and means to capture their knowledge.

Collective memory
in digital time

The current digital environment disrupts the theory of communicative and cultural memory. First of all, “the Internet never forgets” and, thus, all the communicative momentive expressions become physically recorded. In addition, the flat hierarchy and wide access to information make the impact of a person’s opinions universally available to a broad audience. Oxford University studied the phenomena and tried to predict the decay of the collective memory in the www-time. They report that measurement like average daily page views is the most important factor influencing the longevity of memory. Moreover, the second strong factor is the similarity of information or events that happen now and happened in the past. Thus, in order to stay in the collective memory, events or opinions have to gain a massive reach and be corresponding or contradictory with the past actions.

Nevertheless, the Internet might have a different impact in the collective memory once regulated. Having in control the information stream, the impact of the non-hierarchical internet on the collective memory disappears and comes back to its founding theory. However, the collective mind and creativity has evolved with a time.

Collective Genius

By being social creatures, people rarely created something new by being lonely wolves. Human creativity is on its best with increased interaction and exchange of ideas. Linda Hill, Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at Harvard University, has researched the collective creativity and innovation creation. In her books and talks, she communicates that the future leadership shall create a platform for employees cooperations.

As an example of Pixar, Linda showcases that a cartoon is created by a team of 250 people who cooperate and make a story alive. Having a framework of the creation, the process is alive and complex where no one knows the end result before it happens. Studying Ed Catmull’s company, Linda found that the platform of creative genius exists by a collaboration of Creative Abrasion, Creative Resolution, and Creative Agility. In addition, Luca de Meo, the Board of Directors of SEAT Metropolis:Lab Barcelona, says that the community has to be built on mutual trust and respect.

This way the Collective Abrasion becomes not only a brainstorming exercise but a debate and discourse of opinions. Creative agility allows workers to test and experiment with ideas establishing the continuous learning process. And the final stage is Creative Resolution. As Linda puts it in her TedTalk, “this is about doing decision making in a way that you can actually combine even opposing ideas to reconfigure them in new combinations to produce a solution that is new and useful.” To summarize her insights, the creative leadership is an art of creating a stage for employees to grow and develop by being aligned with a common goal. This platform can create a culture that feeds a collective genius.

Insight Box

Collective experiences have less local impact and become a global phenomenon. Internet disrupts the hierarchical information access and transforms personal experiences into the public domain. Changing the way collective memory is created, the attitudes toward life and work change at the same time. This requires a new type of leadership and new ways of creating a culture.

#collective memory #communicative memory #creativity #cultural memory
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Last century brought totally new visions on business environment. The way of living, working and existing overall transformed into globalized digital world. Humanity faced new problems and now has an objective to turn it into the opportunity to develop and grow the business. Managing the ecosystem inside and outside the company, improving the well-being of workers and saving the talents or outsourcing their tasks – these and other solutions are presented in this category.

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