Over the past century, America has increasingly put a premium on working well in groups and getting along with others. In the 1940s, B.B.D.O adman Alex Osborn developed the classic brainstorm technique, which has since become “the most widely used creativity technique in the world.” He stipulated that the single most important rule of a brainstorming session is “the absence of criticism and negative feedback.” But it doesn’t work, according to research that has repeatedly shown that groups perform better when there is debate and negative comment is free to flow. It’s that element of human friction that’s necessary to creativity and that can often be determined by something as basic as an office floor plan – and apparently open-plan offices make workers hostile, insecure and distracted.
Have Americans over-emphasized the corporate kumbaya? Or is it important to hold the team paramount?
Jonah Lehrer, author, “How We Decide” and the forthcoming “Imagine: How Creativity Works”