Why I work alone
Solitude is out of fashion. Our companies, our schools and our culture are in thrall to an idea I call the New Groupthink, which holds that creativity and achievement come from an oddly gregarious place. Most of us now work in teams, in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all. Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in. Susan Cain.
I've always been labelled an extravert, and if you met me you would probably agree. But the one thing that I've wrestled with for years is how much I like to be alone and how much I like to be alone especially when I am working. Am I an Extrovert FRAUD!?
As a creative professional I dread brainstorms. I believe, nothing is more capable of killing a good idea than a hungry brainstorming group.
Great ideas are just good ideas with the dirt polished away. In a brainstorming session people love to point out the dirt as soon as possible it won't work, it's been done, too broad, too narrow etc. But to make a good idea great you have to start out by ignoring the dirt (the idea's faults) and just focus on what makes good in the first place. I've seen many good ideas killed because they weren't great. It's a shame and it's wasteful. Why are we wasting our good ideas?!?
... decades of research show that individuals almost always perform better than groups in both quality and quantity, and group performance gets worse as group size increases. The “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups,” wrote the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham. “If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.”
... the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.
What do you think? Do you work better alone or in a team? Are you an introvert or an extravert?
Further reading: I've recently been trawling the archives of the now closed blog Introverted Church by Adam McHugh also the author of Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture . And I've realised I'm really not a fraud at all. Adam was quoted in and linked to Susan Cain's NY Times.
Top pic from Kubrick's Dr Strangelove. Mid pic Jack Lemmon in The Apartment .