Sunday, July 26, 2015

Collaboration and Creativity

I heard something interesting in an audiobook I was listening to the other day that gave me pause. It was in regards to how creativity can be stifled in group settings. Here was the scenario (paraphrased):

Let’s say you have several people in a room with a task of coming up with some creative idea. Some are considered fairly creative but are also quiet. The others aren’t that creative but are fairly loud and assertive. Chances are, the ideas that will come out of the group will be the less creative ideas from the more loud and assertive members of the group.

There are many factors that can sway the result (e.g. not all quiet people are pushovers, not all loud people try to bulldoze others, etc) but having experienced both sides of this coin, I think the general case remains likely.

That said, neither I or the book are advocating to never collaborate at work. I think there is strength in both approaches. While I like the idea of going off by myself to be creative or learn something, I know that by testing the resulting ideas against a group setting, I can get those ideas validated and possibly enhanced.

Really it comes down to: Like most things in life, if you do too much of one thing, you’re probably going to get suboptimal results.