I’ve spent most of my working life in creative agencies and I always cringe when someone suggests a brainstorm.
Why? Because, as an account handler and the business lead on the account, I’m the one organising, preparing and facilitating the brainstorm in which the expectation is that within a very short time frame a list of brilliant ideas will be generated ready to present to the client.
Reality: I spend several hours preparing a creative brief and then another few hours formatting it into PowerPoint so it’s user friendly for a large group. As the facilitator, I mentally prepare for a group that could be reluctant, tired and unenthusiastic as to how I motivate and inspire great ideas to materialise from nowhere.
It takes me time to prepare. I like to plan and think ahead. I’m not great at thinking on my feet so I like to anticipate possible scenarios and how to best manage them. I want the brainstorm to be a success, for people to enjoy themselves, and, of course, to produce some good ideas that the client will love.
I thought I was alone in my aversion to brainstorming sessions.
That is, until I read Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.* She spends a whole chapter dedicated to Creativity. It’s called WHEN COLLABORATION KILLS CREATIVITY: The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone.
Apparently, the most creative people throughout history have been introverts (e.g., Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Wozniak just to name a random three people). Susan Cain goes into great depth to explain that creativity is best produced when people work alone. Not on a committee. Not on a team.
Introverts are the main topic of Cain’s book, and I spent most of my reading time drawing parallels to the profile of a typical introvert and me. While I don’t have a creative title in the office, I’ve always had a creative streak and enjoy creative hobbies. My best ideas come to me in the shower; a real cliché but so true.
So, is this the reason why I cringe at the mention of a brainstorm?
I’m an introvert. I like time to think. Alone. To plan and prepare.
I’ve never heard a creative cringe at the suggestion. Are they just playing the game too?
I would love to hear from you.
If you’re interested to find out whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert and how it makes you think and act differently, I recommend Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
*Cain, Susan. (2012). Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. New York. Crown Publishers.