I work, for the most part, in my home office. Physically-speaking it’s a solitary existence as my office is separate to my house. However, I’m constantly talking to people via Telegram, Slack, and Mastodon. It doesn’t feel lonely at all.
So this article about collaboration, which I discovered via Stowe Boyd, is an interesting one:
If you’re looking to be brave and do something entirely new, involving more people at the wrong time could kill your idea.
Work at MIT found that collaboration—where a bunch of people put their heads together to try to come up with innovative solutions—generally “reduced creativity due to the tendency to incrementally modify known successful designs rather than explore radically different and potentially superior ones.”
I’m leading a project at the moment which is scheduled to launch in January 2019. It’s potentially going to be used by hundreds of people in the MVP, and then thousands (and maybe hundreds of thousands) after that.
Yet, when I was asked recently whether I’d like more resources, I said “after the summer”. Why? Because every time you add someone new, it temporarily slows down your project. The same can be true when you’re coming up with ideas. You can go faster alone, but further together.
Many people are at their most creative during solitary activities like walking, relaxing or bathing, not when stuck in a room with people shouting at them from a whiteboard.
Indeed a study found that “solitude can facilitate creativity–first, by stimulating imaginative involvement in multiple realities and, second, by ‘trying on’ alternative identities, leading, perhaps, to self-transformation.”
Essentially just being around other people can keep creative people from thinking new thoughts.
I think this article goes a little too far in discounting the value of collaboration. For example, here’s three types of facilitated thinking that I have experience with that work well for both introverts and extroverts:
That being said, I do agree with the author when he says:
Once you’ve unearthed radical ideas from people, they need nurturing. They need protecting from group-think meetings and committees who largely express speculated unevidenced opinions based on current preferences from past experiences.
Design thinking has a bias towards action: it resists talking yourself out of trying something radical. Creating prototypes helps you to think about your idea in a concrete manner, and get it to test before it gets dumbed down.
Chances are, that crazy idea you had will get toned down if you let too many people look at it. Protect the radical and push it hard!