April 04, 2012
Where do you weigh-in on collaboration vs. solitude? There are lots of articles and blogs that espouse the virtues of team brainstorming sessions vs. working on your own to accomplish goals. Susan Cain wrote a great article titled “The Rise of the New Groupthink.” One method shouldn’t be mutually exclusive of the other, so I agree with Ms. Cain that we actually need both collaboration and solitude. Otherwise, it’s like being on the teeter-totter. You’re mostly either heading upward or bottoming out, but you’re only in that balanced zone for a very brief time.
As with most things in life, it’s going to extremes that end up getting us in trouble. Like right now, as I type this, there’s so much commotion going on that I can barely hear myself think – but I wouldn’t want it to be so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. A balance seems to be what works best for me. When I’m under the pressure of time constraints, or when I’m working on something that has tons of details, I like to work alone so I can really focus. But I don’t think it’s healthy to be like that 24/7. You do need those times where creativity and solutions, and just plain old fun, comes from being around other people and feeding off the energy of the group.
I don’t think we were designed to be wholly solitary or to always have great chaos around us. In the article “Collaboration vs. Solitude” by Theresa DeFlitch, she talks about being an introvert, and yet wanting to open the door to the great ideas other people have. I also like her take that collaboration isn’t really the same thing as groupthink. She views collaboration as more three-dimensional. In addition, the website Creative Battlefield provides a good article titled “Solitude vs. Collaboration” with a link to creativeeveryday.com that’s very interesting.
Teeter-totters vs. balance beams. There are pros and cons for whichever side of this fence you’re on, but for me, I like to sit right on top of the fence. What do you think?