Studies like this one, Beware the Ties that Bind, by Martin Ruef of the Stanford Graduate Business School make Creative Generalist very happy.
Ruef has found that disparate information and its transmission are keys to innovation. “Weak ties — of acquaintanceship, of colleagues who are not friends — provide non-redundant information and contribute to innovation because they tend to serve as bridges between disconnected social groups,” he says. “Weak ties allow for more experimentation in combining ideas from disparate sources and impose fewer demands for social conformity than do strong ties.”
Entrepreneurs who spend more time with a diverse network of strong and weak ties — of family, friends, business colleagues, advisors, acquaintances, and complete strangers — are three times more likely to innovate than entrepreneurs stuck within a uniform network. “Diverse networks and sources of information encourage the diffusion of non-redundant information and thus stimulate creativity,” says Ruef. In terms of the entrepreneurial team itself, “the more entrepreneurs you have, the more likely you are to have innovation because people come in with different backgrounds and perspectives.” Ruef cautions, though, that even if complete strangers spend a lot of time together, the ties among them soon will be the equivalent of strong ties and drown out the benefits of non-redundant information.