Monday, January 16, 2012

The new group think.

One of the greatest frauds perpetrated by HR-"professionals" or Organizational Architects, or, simply the quacks and charlatans who issue proclamations from on-high is the notion of collaboration. You know, if we all sit together in a room, we'll get to a better place creatively than if we toil alone. If we work in a noisy, cluttered, chaotic workspace, a free-exchange of ideas will result, bettering our creative output. If no single person has responsibility, we all win.

Yesterday's "New York Times" has a long and important article that deflates these myths. It's called "The Rise of the New Group Think" and it's written by Susan Cain. You can read it here:

Cain writes, "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."

That just about sums it up for me.

Don't make me sit in meetings which take away the time I need to actually think and, instead, demand that I think (for all) on demand. Don't make me sit out in the open where focus is often beaten by distraction. Don't tell me to collaborate when what you're really doing is watching.

This open plan, "let's all work together," bs is yet one more example of modern myopia. Let's do something completely different from how it's been done through all of recorded history--that'll work.

Leave me alone.

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