It’s pretty obvious that collaboration is a key component of creativity. Most projects we deal with today are just too big and complex for one person to handle. Plus, the diversity of expertise and insight that groups offer is greatly beneficial in designing solutions. But collaboration doesn’t necessarily mean working together, all the time.
When teaching the dynamics of creativity and collaboration I greatly stress how important it is that collaborative projects maintain a pace. One way to make sure collaborative projects move forward is for members to spend time working alone. It’s just more efficient. Waiting for people to arrive at meetings wastes time. Often times, you sit and wait for a half hour or more for everyone to show. Additionally, the first fifteen minutes is socializing. Plus scheduling and attending meetings takes time out of your day. If there is something you can do on your own, go ahead and do it. Share the results with the group via social media or the group’s online resource and then get feedback.
Group brainstorming is an occasion where working alone beforehand is hugely beneficial. Brainstorming sessions are times when group members get together to either create a lot of ideas, or to work through some ideas toward a creative solution. To make these sessions more productive, group members should work individually on the topic prior to the group meeting. Group sessions generate far fewer ideas than individual members making lists on their own. Also, when generating ideas in a group, group dynamics take over. Some people tend to participate more and others less, and the words on the board have sway over the words that will be on the board.
Another benefit of working alone while in collaborative groups is the benefit of solitude and deep thinking. If all the work is done as a group, individual members have a difficult time reflecting on the problems at hand. And therefore, they have a tough time thinking through the deeper aspects. Think about a time when you wanted to really concentrate on your work and went home to do it.