Creative Ways to Engage in Transdisciplinarity

alexgarciatopeteInnovation, Organizational Design, Research, Transdisciplinarity Leave a Comment

Crossing boundaries and transcending established ways of thinking can challenge individuals and teams alike. The Transdisciplinary Intelligence (TDI) framework provides actionable ways to engage in such practices through creativity, curiosity, learning, and savvy leadership.

What is transdisciplinarity?

The principle of transdisciplinarity as applied to the workplace is more or less as follows: All people are connected to the world. Different people see the world differently than one another, and each has a unique worldview. There are as many types of brains as there are people. To know anything about a situation you need to understand how the world looks to people with different perspectives. It’s more important to communicate the right information to the right person at the right time than it is to provide an exact answer to every question. To deliver great ideas, you need to understand the context in which the idea was generated and be ready to adapt as needed.

How is transdisciplinarity different from interdisciplinarity?

Interdisciplinary collaboration requires a clear focus, skills in a specific discipline, coordination and cooperation with related and varying disciplines, and many of the usual group dynamics. Transdisciplinary ideas are more flexible and integrated, implying more diverse perspectives and skills. Are these concepts unique to the Life Sciences and Social Sciences? No. The most notable examples of transdisciplinary knowledge are the arts, design, and architecture, but the disciplines of economics, mathematics, and business also embrace intersecting fields. Other areas of science can also be transdisciplinary, as are military, professional, and recreational sports.

What supports transdisciplinary intelligence?

Transdisciplinarity lies at the heart of innovation. Companies that understand that are the ones that continue to thrive as new generations strive for engagement and experience that complements their existing world views. Innovations can be coming from unexpected places. There can be breakthrough ideas outside of the rigid hierarchies of traditional industries. Such disjunctures, connections, and horizons are crucial for creativity and innovation. In order to foster transdisciplinarity, companies should foster their employees’ cultural curiosity to facilitate exploration of untraditional ideas. In addition, leading teams need to have an open mind to recognize and work with those diverse perspectives.

Why is transdisciplinarity important?

In addition to striving to put together information, solutions, and proposals that represent as many sides of a single issue, organizations often struggle to create a system or environment where members can engage in meaningful conversation with their colleagues about the right questions. Because the organization is one of many voices trying to solve an issue, it doesn’t allow for groups to innovate and share ideas. Companies become siloed and suffer from lack of innovation. Why is it good to cross boundaries? Crossing boundaries can benefit an organization by opening new perspectives, encouraging individuals to think about new ways of solving problems, and creating a new kind of problem-solving environment.

How can we engage in transdisciplinarity?

To begin with, the core of the new way of working is becoming an adaptive system – transdisciplinary intelligent system. Adaptive systems can learn from experience and adapt faster than their peers. Transdisciplinary systems can learn from experience, context, diversity, and imagination, thus exceeding the limits of their competitors. Transdisciplinary systems cross established boundaries and impact the organization’s internal and external business environment. The creative, curiosity, time, learning, and nimbleness are the key qualities for creating such an adaptive system. Within the existing systems, reinventing and transdisciplinarity should be a conscious process. Its objectives must be clear, especially for inter-company work. Thus, Transdisciplinary Intelligence must be cultivated among all members of the organization.


Investing in your human capital is foundational to long-term success. Organizations that invest in innovation are gaining competitive advantage. Organizations must pay attention to what is going on around them to be aware of any changes that might be leading towards their disruption. In order to attract and keep top talent, today’s leaders are finding new ways to think differently, problem solve, and engage others. We do not know how much longer we will have on this earth and we want to spend it doing the things that matter most to us. By adopting and engaging in Transdisciplinary Intelligence, you are laying a solid foundation for long-term organizational success.

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