Group Think Not as Productive as Solo Work
> 2/23/2007 12:14:38 PM

Have you noticed a lack of creativity in many of your group meetings? New research shows you're probably not alone. H. Shanker Krishnan, an expert in consumer behavior and marketing strategy from Indiana University, has published a report in the forthcoming edition of The Journal of Consumer Research, along with Charles Lindsay from SUNY Buffalo, that shows how group meetings tend to be much less productive and creative than work done by individuals.

As MSNBC explains:

The researchers speculate that when a group of people receives information, the inclination is to discuss it. The more times one option is said aloud, the harder it is for individuals to recall other options, explained Krishnan, associate professor of marketing at Indiana University.

Another contributing factor is variation in learning and memory styles. People store and retrieve information in myriad ways, so in a group situation, the conversation could cause individuals to think about the cues differently than they would if they were alone.

In essence, groups will tend to be less creative in exploring various options than an individual working alone might. Obviously, this doesn't mean that all group work is bad, or that it can't be productive. What this study shows though, is that the most productive groups will be those whose members spend time alone brainstorming ideas before each meeting. With a list of potential contributions, each member can make sure that new ideas are brought into the fold, while the group can focus on exploring each particular suggestion. Clearly, good leadership is important to any group, and as Dr. Krishnan's work here shows, their role may never be more important than in making sure that each group member has their say.

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