Teamwork is Overrated

Why Teamwork Is Overrated

Big Think has a good article on individualism and how people rely on group work too much. I more or less agree.

The conventional wisdom is that together everyone achieves more. In certain instances this is true, but collective action that produces 1+1=3 results usually requires a delicate mix of individuals who are on the same page and work well together. It’s a combination that’s hard to find and easy to break.

In the absence of these conditions, gridlock and conventional wisdom tend to dominate, and mediocrity often drives out the best ideas because much of teamwork relies on the ability to articulate your ideas to other people. The best ideas are often difficult to explain clearly to others who haven’t thought of them, and it conditions people to put away their best ideas because they’ll usually be shunned by the group. The part of your brain that controls deliberate reasoning also makes up a small portion of your total cognitive capacity, and your unconscious often handles cognitive inputs extensively before it gets funneled to the part of your brain that can put abstractions into words.

So the best ideas usually come after months or years of shoveling around disparate thoughts in your head until everything can be tied together in an ordered form that can be clearly communicated to other people.

A quick look at the history of ideas more or less confirms these observations. Newton, Einstein, Keynes, etc, all produced their best work by constantly tinkering and iterating through different thoughts in their own head until they finally condensed their best insights onto paper so they could be shared with the world.

They certainly confided with like minded people along the way, but the process was almost certainly different from the type of forced group work you often see in school. The primary fruits of their abilities were borne in their own head.

In my own life I’ve also found this to be true. My best ideas and most successful endeavors have never had a group consensus and always had to be undertaken in solitude until their results were ready to be shared with others.

The result is I have much more confidence and sharper decision making abilities than if I would have gone with the flow. By a mile.

I started Health Kismet on the same principles and look forward to the challenge.

Overall, I think far too many people short change themselves because they get in the habit of giving way to convention and never give themselves the platform to go off on their own and exercise their most unique thoughts and desires. If you suppress these inner abilities too long your creativity muscle goes limp and resuscitating it back to life can be quite difficult, and often impossible in the circumstances of time and place, which is true defeat.

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