Feature

In praise of the introvert

Brainstorming sessions have been shown to be “one of the worst possible ways to stimulate creativity,” and the bigger the group, the worse the performance, said Susan Cain at The New York Times.

Susan Cain
The New York Times

We’d all be better off spending more time working alone, said Susan Cain. Our workplaces have been taken over by New Groupthink, in which teamwork, collaboration, and open-plan offices have displaced solitude, independence, and privacy. “Anyone who has ever needed noise-canceling headphones in her own office” knows what I’m talking about. This trend is bad for business, because “people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption.”

Some 70 percent of U.S. employees now work in open-plan offices, and nearly all spend time working in teams. That may help us exchange ideas, but it also stifles creativity, lowers productivity, and even makes us sicker. Studies show workers in open-plan offices are more “hostile, insecure, and distracted,” and more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and the flu. Brainstorming sessions have been shown to be “one of the worst possible ways to stimulate creativity,” and the bigger the group, the worse the performance. Teamwork has its place. But it’s often in quiet, private moments that our best work is done.

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