When do you get your best ideas? Does lightening strike when you're alone, either working solo or caught up in a day-dream? Or are you most inspired by the energetic give-and-take of a room full of smart, collaborative peers?
We fall into the hybrid camp: sometimes inspiration strikes unexpectedly: surfing the web, commuting, or dare we admit it, hitting the snooze button again and again. Other times, we require the collaborative spark that comes from bouncing ideas around with bright, imaginative colleagues.
So we were intrigued by a recent New York Times piece, The Rise of the New Groupthink which asserts that the trend towards workplace collaboration is actually counterproductive to creativity. The author even goes so far as to say, "Brainstorming sessions are one of the worst possible ways to stimulate creativity." Instead, the article cites privacy, freedom from interruption and solitude as the keys to innovation.
Not surprisingly, the article stirred the pot, generating a number of counter responses. Keith Sawyer, an academic and author of "Group Genius" and "Explaining Creativity" rebuts the notion that creativity is best left a solo endeavor, saying, "Decades of scientific research have revealed that great creativity is almost always based in collaboration, conversation and social networks - just the opposite of our mythical image of the isolated genius."
For more on this debate, read Fast Company's The Fortunes of Solitude: Susan Cain On Introverts, The "New Groupthink," And The Problems With Brainstorming and The New Yorker's Brainstorming Doesn't Really Work.
At the end of the day, we believe that both methods of harnessing creativity and spurring innovation have their merits. If you favor the collaborative, group approach, you might like the tips in our past post Light it Up: Brainstorming Techniques That Work. For those more apt to fly solo, read Sometimes, It's Better to Brainstorm Alone and the Wall Street Journal piece, Brainstorming Works Best if People Scramble for Ideas on Their Own.
Do you favor group brainstorming or do you get your best ideas when working alone? Have you had any luck with particular brainstorming tools or techniques? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.
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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.