Sunday, March 25, 2012

The plights of group work

Dear Susan Cain,
I really enjoyed your article “The Rise of the Groupthink”. The importance of solitude in fostering creativity is an idea that I have often suspected but never heard explicitly stated. I must admit you made a very compelling argument and had me thoroughly convinced of its importance. Reflecting on my own experiences in groupthinks, last semester many of my classes had me collaborating with groups for final projects and it was certainly a challenging experience. In hindsight, I must say that given the opportunity to work alone, I am almost certain I could have put together better projects for all of those classes. Many of the hindrances to our productivity as a group were the exact reasons you highlighted in your article, whether it was social, sexual, conformity, interruptions, fear of rejection and so on.
That being said, I learned a lot from your article in terms of how to maximize productivity. Finding the right balance between solitude and group work is certainly a challenge, but being aware of this challenge at least increases the chances of getting it right. Your point at the end of the article that computer monitors offer the best of both worlds, in providing a screen of solitude as well as a collaborative and creative environment is one that draws many parallels to Clay Shirky’s article “Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production”.  The idea that websites like Wikipedia allow people to in a sense “Groupthink” over a page in a never-ending process is in essence the same idea as your point and perhaps this is why Wikipedia proves to be such a popular and efficient website.
Interestingly enough, it seems as though the easiest solution to this problem is to have people collaborate in an online setting whenever group work is necessary. Google Docs is an application that comes to mind and one that would solve a lot of the problems that group work often creates. Could it really be so simple?

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