Monday, March 26, 2012

groupthink or group work?

Dear Susan Cain,

Your article, The Rise of the New Groupthink was interesting to read. I believe many of the issues you mentioned did not acknowledge the other side. You mention the issue of workers not having private spaces. I believe that workers may enjoy community places to do work, like a conference room, but also value having their own space. I believe this is why many workers complain about the open-plan office, not the fact that they must collaborate with other works. Also when people do have work they need to complete individually, it can be distracting to see and hear all the rest of the company at work.

It is interesting that you mention several studies in the beginning of your article but you do not cite the name, authors or go in depth with the details of the study. You do go into detail for the Coding War Games study, which leads me to presume that this study was more credible then the others. Further you say that people from the top organization that had more privacy, personal workspace and freedom from interruption than people from less accomplished organization. I believe this does not prove you case about groupthink. Rather it shows that people like to work independently when needed, not that they do not like to collaborate at all or that collaboration has a negative impact on work.

For brainstorming to work effectively, group members must establish a criteria for all meetings/brainstorming sessions. For example, appointing one or two devils advocate makes it more acceptable to oppose the majority of the groups opinion. I do not believe group work is not achievable, but it is rather new to many humans. With the youngest generations beginning to graduate from college and enter the work force, I believe group work will prove to be more successful than ever. With any change is a time for adjustment, and that is exactly what the American workforce is dealing with at this very moment.

It is interesting to see that when brainstorming electronically, large groups outperform individuals. This is apparent in Clay Shirky’s chapter Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production in her book Here Comes Everybody. Shirky talks about the popular collaborative encyclopedia, Wikipedia. This is the perfect example of people working electronically in very large numbers. Rather than working in specific groups, people collaborate on the content that is posted.

However Andrew Keens chapter The Great Seduction in his book The Cult of the Armature has a different point of view on the impact of Wikipedia and the Internet in general. His example of the cause of death of Ken Lay makes you think about the content that is on the site. If there are some people dedicated to publishing a particular fact or lie, could the truth be lost on this site that so many people use for information?

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