Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors
Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors


About Team Role Theory

History & Research

Reliability & Validity

Dr. Meredith Belbin

Behavior vs. Personality



Quality vs Quantity in the Creative Process

In a now famous account, a pottery instructor divided his class into 2 groups. He told one group that their grade would be determined by the quality of their work no matter how many pieces they made. The 2nd group would be evaluated not on the quality of their work, but on the quantity. The more pieces, the higher the grade.

At the end of the semester the outcomes were unmistakable. The group that had created the most pieces likewise had produced the highest quality work. Ironically, those pupils who were directly centered on quality were less able to produce quality. How come?

What is the relationship between quantity and quality? Often, the more you produce, the more mastery you will have. Imaginative mastery comes in numerous degrees. How you make important decisions along with the ability to be decisive. How your brain sees the creative process as well as a type of intuitive understanding that grows over time and experience. How free you are to make errors while increasing the sense of the correct direction to choose.

Learning allows you to move from one level of understanding and competency to a higher level. Normally there are mistakes to make. Usually the more rigorous the learning, the more mistakes.

Quantity does not always lead to quality. If there isnít a learning property, nothing will change, and quality might even decay. But the most natural pattern when creating anything is a onward motion of domination through a progression of learning. How does learning take place?

We begin, as always, with structural tension, a clear vision of an end effect and a clear perspective of the actual reality in relationship to that result. This is of the essence, because without structural tension you would be restricted to a series of spontaneous improvisations.

Quantity without structural tension does not lead to all-inclusive learning. Without an end in mind you are left with a purely statistical approach: produce a lot of things, trust that several of them work out. When that is the case, each inventive event is random. Each event is an individual sequence that does not connect with future creative events. This is like a non-relational database in which the data is isolated and does not connect with other seconds of information. Thus, there is no traction leading to momentum, no sense of growth, no foundation upon which to progress. No organizing principle that enables learning to lead to mastery.

One thing that the pottery pupils had was enough of a visual sense of each piece so that they could establish structural tension. They had their target. The current reality was under their fingers and in their awareness. This was true for both the quality AND quantity group. So we can conclude that structural tension is merely a prerequisite. Without it, it would be difficult to throw a pot. But if the vision were to create the highest quality imaginable, the ultimate result would miss the mark. Higher levels of quality come from adequate experience over time.

When I was a high school youngster, I studied with the Boston Symphony clarinetist Felix Viscuglia at the New England Conservatory of Music. I would take Phil a coffee (he insisted on everyone calling him Phil) to every weekly lesson, not unlike the proverbial apple to the teacher. He always spoke to me as if I were a colleague rather than a scholar, which was kind of nice for me. He would say of the college students who studied with him, ďHow can they expect to play like me? Iíve been performing over 25 years.Ē I would nod as if I knew what he was talking about. But I only realized what he meant after I had been playing for over 25 years.

There is a long-term perspective of the creative process, which includes experience over extended periods of time and learning. And there is the short-term view, which attempts to rely on inspiration, impetus, and improvisation. And while there is a place for short-term spontaneous moments, you canít build and support real control from that alone.

So, make a lot of creations. Make sure you have structural tension as the fabric. Donít get obsessed about how good any creation is, but do make a point of learning from each installment of the creative procedure. Mastery will occur over time, and you will find your ability to create what you want increases dramatically.