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The Brainstorming Myth

"The thing that distinguishes brainstorming from other types of group activity is the absence of criticism and negative feedback. If people were worried that their ideas might be ridiculed by the group, the process would fail." According to the technique's originator, Alex Osborn, "“Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom while discouragement often nips it in the bud.'" Brainstorming seems like a marvellous, feel-good way of creative problem-solving. But it doesn’t work. [more inside]
posted by storybored on Feb 21, 2012 - 63 comments

The Tyranny of Structurelessness

The Tyranny of Structurelessness
[T]o strive for a structureless group is as useful, and as deceptive, as to aim at an “objective” news story, “value-free” social science, or a “free” economy. A “laissez faire” group is about as realistic as a “laissez faire” society; the idea becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others. This hegemony can so easily be established because the idea of “structurelessness” does not prevent the formation of informal structures, only formal ones. . . . Thus structurelessness becomes a way of masking power, and within the women’s movement it is usually most strongly advocated by those who are the most powerful (whether they are conscious of their power or not).

posted by jason's_planet on Apr 2, 2007 - 141 comments

The Abilene Paradox

The Abilene Paradox: A sunny afternoon, a family playing cards on a terrace. One of them thinks they should move - not that he cares, on the contrary, but he thinks the others want to - so he proposes a trip to Abilene. No fun, hot, bad food. Back home one of them admits that he had preferred to stay home. Everybody would have liked that, only they did not admit to it when it was still time to enjoy the afternoon.
Everyone talks about free speech, but it's surprising how few people (even its most vociferous defenders!) realize why it's so important. The Abilene Paradox -- which describes in familiar terms how entire groups can be motivated to act contrary to their own wishes -- can only occur when communication breaks down...or is broken down. Just a bit of pragmatism to start your day.
posted by effugas on Jul 21, 2003 - 8 comments

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