Today has a been a day of strange coincidence.
For one reason or another I spent a large portion of last night discussing the differences between introverts and extraverts (myself being an introvert). I won’t go into huge detail but suffice to say it is a topic that has been on the mind.
So this morning I take my seat at my desk in the usual way and commence my ritual trawl of Twitter and Google Reader looking for interesting twitbits (see what I did there!) to facilitate my procrastination from doing any real work. It is a familiar and regular pattern. One blog I have been finding particular enjoyment from of late is Fast Co.Design, a design and innovation blog that is essentially everything I want this blog to be but a million times better (I guess that’s what you get when you have proper curators of content being generated by invited bloggers who are top names in their field, ahem). I must confess to it being possibly the single biggest generator of tweet content from myself of late.
Anyway, I digress, this morning while mining it for inspiration I found this article from Daniel Sobol about the corporate penchant for generating ideas from brainstorming sessions. The main thrust of the article being that brainstorming might not be the ideal way of going about extracting ideas from a team as there will be introverted members of the team who do not engage well in this process for fear of setting themselves up to social rejection. The article then goes on to put forward an alternative technique known as ‘deliberative discourse’, or argue, discuss, argue, discuss. It is an interesting premise, and an article I recommend giving a read.
However it was not so much Sobol’s suggestions that interested me, more the inspiration for it being the recognition that aspects of modern, especially corporate, life are set up in a way that undervalues introverts.
This notion has come to the fore due to the recent publication of the book ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain and it is the topic of her book that inspired Mr Sobol’s post and is catalysing a range of thinking around the subject currently. Susan Cain is hot property right now following her highly celebrated talk to promote the book and it’s theory at this month’s Ted Lectures (you can see her talk above).
In short her book deals with how society dramatically undervalues introverts and how it loses out in doing so. It highlights the extravert favouring dominant values of business culture, how forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. All fascinating stuff which I vowed to delve further into.
So as is often the case when I stumble across something I find interesting I decided to share it, both publicly on Twitter and Linked In etc. and also across my company’s internal social network Yammer.
For those who don’t know Yammer is like Facebook for business basically. It’s a closed network, with a user interface so close to that of Facebook it’s lawsuit worthy and at SustainAbility we use it for sharing knowledge, gathering opinion and engaging in general banter. It really is a great idea and I would advise any company that wanted to foster an environment of collaborative thought and information exchange to try it.
But anyway again I’m going off track… The important factor is how this led to the next coincidence… my colleague Heather replied to my post saying that she had tickets to a talk at promoting the launch of Quiet by Susan Cain at the RSA, today and would I like to go! Hell yes!
So there I find myself within 12 hours of my previous nights debate on the nature of extraverts and introverts and their relationships in the modern world, trotting off to watch a talk by the world’s current thought leader on the subject.
Well suffice to say I was captivated. Miss Cain really has hit upon one of those mystical things that once you are alerted too seems so obvious yet were completely oblivious to until this point. I was most impressed by how even handed and well researched her ideas are. Far from being a piece simply bigging up introverts her points are admirably well handled taking into account all angles and the affects the current social settings have on all personality types. The talk and surrounding discussions were both insightful and challenging and I must say I left feeling a renewed sense of energy and optimism with my approach to work and my wider social life.
So there it is, my short little story of the introvert and his coincidence. Sometimes things are meant to be and today it feels like this introvert was meant to be in the right place at the right time.
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27 March 2012, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Business, Innovation, Random, Sustainability and tagged Brainstorming, Coincidence, Daniel Sobol, Extraverts, Fast Co.Design, Innovation, Introverts, Susan Cain