Thursday, March 8, 2012

collaboration is inefficient

I hate that TED talks exist as videos but not transcripts, so I miss out on almost all of them, but the title of this one was enough to get me to watch, and it's very good: Susan Cane on the power of introverts.

This got me thinking again about the "madness for constant group work." Why is everyone so crazy about collaboration all of the sudden? When did the extroverts decide that their preferences are the objective best way to do things and start shouting it from the mountaintops, while the introverts quietly mind their own business as their way of life is bulldozed out of existence?

I don't know the answer to the second question, but I think I understand the former. Collaboration is just a more general version of the group brainstorming phenomenon. In a group, the new ideas are flying and interacting and reinforcing into groupthink tunnelvision, and it's exciting and things move quickly and directly of course this seems like an efficient way to get things done. But it's an illusion. If we could be simultaneously aware of all the progress that was being made by those same individuals working intently in solitude, that would seem clearly vastly more efficient.

(Ideas come up with by groups can only be as complex as can be communicated and understood by all on such a short timespan. Even if individuals work on their own and meet regularly to regather, which is an approach I generally support so long as the group meetings don't turn into agonizing marathons that are used as excuses not to do anything real on your own the rest of the time, two competing possibilities will be distinguished by simplicity, which leads to quicker understanding by the group, which leads to quicker adoption by the group. Not exactly the ideal choice mechanism.)

Extroverts thrive on the group madness. They love the constant stimulation and interaction. So they embrace the illusion and advocate like crazy for collaboration.

Introverts are exhausted by it. They shut down, hide in their offices, and quietly change the world one solitude-requiring deep idea at a time. Give them some room to breathe; stop the madness! (Fast forward to 16:30 in the video above :)


Anonymous said...

Thanks! I was annoyed like hell before finding and reading this, now I feel a lot better :)

Vera L. te Velde said...

good :)