Saturday, January 14, 2012

Introvert Saturday: The Rise of the New Groupthink

Is creativity fostered best in a group or alone? Companies, schools, and churches have been practicing group brainstorming for decades, as well as steadily increasing public space and decreasing private space in their architectural designs.

But Susan Cain, author of the forthcoming QUIET, has a different perspective, which she expresses in Sunday's New York Times:

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.

But there’s a problem with this view. Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And 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.

I highly, highly recommend the whole article, called "The Rise of the New Groupthink," to you, and if you read far enough, you'll find a quote from some guy who wrote a book called Introverts in the Church.

What is your experience? Do you find that group interaction and conversation sparks creativity or kills it?