Fashion changes quickly. Admittedly, ideas about thinking may not change quite as rapidly, but you can nevertheless detect changes. Today, working together in teams is popular. The lone thinker is out of fashion. More brains mean more ideas.
Working together in a group, highlights the social nature of a project. Everyone will feel that he or she has contributed to the project. Discussions often continue to flourish in the hallways, or over lunch. However, the quality of the ideas and sorting out the ideas can be a bit of a nightmare.
It is interesting to explore why coming up with ideas should be a social process. After all, novelists and painters do not hold brainstorming meetings. They do not make long lists of ideas together. Also, many mangers come up with the best ideas in solitude, or when walking their dogs.
The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that we are more creative when our thoughts can flow free from interruptions. This view is based on the idea that creative people often are introverts. A focused mind helps to foster creativity and social interactions may disturb the creative process. Creating something is often a lonely process where the creator lives with the creation in their heads.
A thinking tool that can be useful to explore a subject is to do a PMI where you list Plus, Minus and Interesting aspects with an idea. Below is PMI on some comments that were added to an article about the New Groupthink by Susan Cain.
PMI on Groupthink
Some people work better in groups.
Facebook and Google use a flat organisation with group discussions.
Not every idea is creative and discussions in groups are valuable to evaluate ideas.
Creative people need to feel empowered by others.
Group work allows people to ask questions and explore ideas.
Some people do better on their own.
We have not been taught to work together in a group.
We bring with us bad habits about competing
Ideas are attacked before they are discussed.
Some people go both ways.
Forcing you makes you uninspired.
A creativity formula is uncreative.
PMI is an evaluation and assessing tool, which can help you to make better decision by taking into account more aspects regarding the situation. It prevents “jumping to conclusions“.Write first down as many positive aspects of the idea, or results of taking action during two minutes. Then write down every single negative aspect you can think of during two minutes.
Now we can escape from the Black/White assessment of the idea. The next two minutes we concentrate on aspects, which might be interesting, what might be happen or are Plus nor Minus. What is interesting to you may not be interesting to someone else. Yet, writing down interesting aspects and possibilities with an idea is a vital part of the PMI tool.
This tool can be used to make a decision where you for example put number values on the different aspects and add them together. Many people automatically do this in their heads. However, forcing yourself to write it down often helps to generate new aspects and ideas.
Photo: Hands Counting One To Five by MR LIGHTMAN