Collaboration or Working alone? Which is best for creativity?
A great book has been written recently by Susan Cain called the “QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. It has triggered of a rash of debate/feedback/emotions (nothing quiet there!) about brainstorming/group work/collaboration and creativity in general.
There are three articles that I read that are worth a look that explore this topic:
- The brainstorming process is B.S. But can we rework it?
- The fortunes of Solitude: Susan Cain on Introverts, The “New Groupthink”, And The Problems With Brainstorming
- Does Solitude Enhance Creativity? A Critique of Susan Cain’s Attack on Collaboration
My thoughts after reading the articles and Susan’s work are that I am somewhat of a fence sitter. I take this position both as a practicing artist/creative practitioner (I think is the current term of phrase) and a business owner where creativity and people are our business. Those thoughts are:
- The great thing about being people is that we are all unique and different. What applies to one wont necessarily apply to the other. That’s what makes us cool.
- Great things happen when people collaborate and spend time by themselves. Coming to this argument with my artists hat on, great moments of creativity happen when you are alone in the studio. Playing undisturbed with your art is fantastic. Given that, you also need stimulus from the outside world to keep feeding this creativity going and developing and get some new energy going.
Collaborating on art projects is fantastic as you get to mix and mash plenty of ideas together and you also get great feedback on what you are creating.
As a business owner in the field of creativity, I cant wait it share ideas with the team and get their ideas and mix into a huge hotpot of creativity. I could not achieve what we do without this collaboration/sharing/feedback.
Spending time by myself however gives great time for contemplation and review and when the mind rests, plenty of ideas are unlocked from the subconscious. Plane trips are great for this. If you have an ultra busy life, always being disturbed by phone calls or a household of young kids, these quiet times are ideal on both a personal and a professional level.
- Brainstorming is potentially crap and potentially great. It depends on how these are run, the environment, the expectations, the leaders of the ‘storm’, the energy and dynamics in both the team and the organisation, how the information is captured.
- You have to find what works best for you and your team. Try different things, be open to feedback, listen and see and the best way to work will be easily apparent
- On both an artistic sense and a business sense, collaboration and solitude both have a place in the creative/being productive process. There is no hard or fast rule for what works for who, that what’s makes us so interesting as humans, we are all different and amazing, regardless how we may all be grouped.
Happy Creating and exploring what works best. Whatever you do, enjoy it.