Think together

Think together

The article is about group thinking, criticism and how they help to create new ideas, better work with teams and be more creative.

Is the title intriguing? Good. It should be!

I was inspired to write this after reading the article called “Group thinking” by Jonah Lehrer.

The article is about group thinking, criticism and how they help to create new ideas, better work with teams and be more creative.


There are three main concepts here:

  • Brainstorming has proven to be ineffective, when you allow a debate you will yield superior results.
  • New team members will increase the team’s creativity potential.
  • Out of office interactions will help generate new ideas as it gives people a chance to interact with others.

I found the article exceptionally interesting because it summarizes several concepts on how to build an environment for creative minds. In theory these concepts are simple.

Allow discussion

The trick here is to allow people to have open discussions as well as to critique others ideas.

For many years I thought that brainstorming with its sacred rules (don’t criticize and any idea is allowed) is the way to go. It turns out that by allowing debate you open the group to joint thinking which enables more fleshed out thoughts.

Mix team’s members

It is believed that fixed teams are the most effective because team members learn how to work together over time. The problem is that they tend to solve the same problems in the same way following the idea that if it worked once it will work again. Maybe there are better, faster and more secure ways of solving it? By introducing a new team member we increase the chances of the question “Why it is done this way?” being asked. If we have open minded people (which we do) they will at least take the idea into consideration.

Create space

Give people space to meet as well as an opportunity to talk and productivity may take place. In the article it is illustrated with an example of the famous Building 20 and the Pixar Studios, where such areas were created (who knows if it is a coincidence or by design). These places helped to stimulate new ideas in the office. We have such a place in our office, it is a cantina (think Star Wars). People meet there to eat, have a coffee, play foosball or the piano. I often hear people discussing a project or current issues with colleagues from other teams. It is simply an area that is buzzing with creative conversation, it is absolutely stimulating!

Now to bring this lovely informative writing to an end, let’s recap. You should allow people to debate over matters, you should also shake up the teams so people will have not only creative ideas but also fresh ideas. You can help them with all of this by creating a space in the office where people can freely meet and discuss whatever is on their mind. I do believe that only good things can come with these new ideas.

Photo: Michael Heiss/Flickr Creative Commons
Image: New Yorker/Groupthink