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As I continue to review Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” I move on to Chapter 3. Here the author begins to discuss the power of the introvert.
She talks about how the world is moving towards more of a GroupThink mentality where businesses are focused on team work, meetings, and innovation through working together. Even schools are moving towards this model in small group learning and group projects. And even on the internet she argues that things like Facebook and Twitter also move towards GroupThink.
She said, however, that some of the people who are the most creative and/or the best at what they do spend a lot of time alone practicing the skill set that is so masterful. She gives the example of Steve Wozniak, the creator of the first computer for Apple. Although he participated in a group with liked minded people that helped to instigate his thinking, he spent a lot of time on his own to develop it.
She calls it Deliberate Practice where people identify the tasks or knowledge just of out their reach, strive to upgrade their performance, monitor their progress, and revise accordingly. She says that practices that do not follow this pattern actually are counterproductive as they reinforce current cognitive patterns.
She also says that the work environment they are in contributes to this creativity. A closed work environment helps. She says that “open-plan offices have been found to reduce productivity and impair memory.” By having an open environment it leads to more stimulation which can impede learning.
She also argues that group brainstorming sessions don’t work as people tend to sit back and let others do the work, one person takes over and others are forced to sit back and not contribute, and/or there is the fear of looking stupid in front of other people.
Finally she does admit that that creativity cannot be done in isolation, but needs a mix of introverts and extroverts, solitude and interaction with people, and finally an ability to have settings where people can circulate with others when they want to/need to. It did take a collaboration of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs to create Apple.
I agree with Susan that many times my most creative moments are when I am “deliberately practicing” but it also cannot be done without any social interaction or outside ideas getting involved sometimes in order to truly create the best solution. What do you think? When are you at your most creative? Is it when you are in groups with others or on your own?
Monica Thakrar has over 14 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.