Blog Post

What enables collaboration and creativity – Insights from the CoDesign Culture Lab

by | 19 Jul, 2020 | Blog, CoDesign @ CECS ANU, Scaffolding Cultural Cocreativity

 Enabling Creativity and Collaboration was a two-hour workshop run at the 2019 Co-Design Culture Lab, that brought all the participants of the event together for the first time, with the aim of synthesising insights about what enables creativity and collaboration. The creativity and collaboration workshop drew on the presentations and workshops from the previous sessions and the diverse perspectives and experiences of the participants. All the participants, including speakers and workshop leaders, were asked to work in pairs and small groups to reflect on what they had heard and learned about creativity and collaboration, both in the Culture Lab and in their own lives and practices. We then worked together to articulate what enables creativity and collaboration in the context of the University, performing small role plays to illustrate enabling factors.

What enables collaboration?

Participants identified many different factors that could aid collaboration, but some the key factors repeatedly highlighted across the different groups were:

  • shared vision, goals and values;
  • necessity, i.e. collaboration is essential for success in a given context;
  • collaboration being incentivised, rewarded and valued

Other important factors identified included:

  • diversity;
  • empathy;
  • respect and good attitude;
  • clear communication and creating shared understanding;
  • time;
  • trust;
  • people skills;
  • shared/complementary skills and passions.

These factors were further underpinned by a supportive and inclusive culture that engages with all stakeholders, suitable physical infrastructure and robust institutional support. 

What enables creativity?

Participants identified many factors that could aid creativity, but we eventually clustered the key themes into 5 stand-out criteria:

  • safe space;
  • time;
  • pushing boundaries;
  • diversity;
  • acceptance of risk and failure;

Other important factors identified included:

  • personal motivation to gain new/different skills and perspectives;
  • freedom/autonomy;
  • suitable physical infrastructure;
  • headspace;
  • respectful disagreement and dialogue;
  • supportive performance metrics.

These factors were underpinned by leadership and culture that values creativity, as well as access to resources.


Although we hadn’t warned people at the outset of the workshop that they would be asked to perform, the energy in the room led us to invite workshop participants to develop a series of role plays as the way groups shared their insights into the factors that enable creativity and collaboration.  This proved to be a hilarious and dynamic way of communicating the co-created insights and bringing the different skills and personalities of participants together in a creative way. 

Final thoughts

While the factors highlighted by the workshop participants may seem obvious to some, there is great value in working together as a group to articulate these factors in concrete terms. Coming together to share commonalities and differences across a range of diverse backgrounds reinforces the reality that we are often as alike as we are different, reminding participants that while we share common ground, we can also benefit from each other’s different expertise and experiences.

What do you think?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Let us know in the comments, what do you think are the enablers of creativity and collaboration? 

  • How can organisations better support these?
  • What resources or research have you found useful in supporting collaborative creativity?