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Introversion and Solitude Increase Productivity

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the hermits-rejoice dept.

Technology 214

bonch writes "Author Susan Cain argues that modern society's focus on charisma and group brainstorming has harmed creativity and productivity by removing the quiet, creative process. 'Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They're extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They're not joiners by nature.'"

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Not sure about this one. (5, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700948)

Being alone doesn't mean I'm more productive -- it could mean I'm spending all day posting on Slashdot.

Re:Not sure about this one. (4, Insightful)

bgeezus (1252178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701002)

On Slashdot, you're never alone.

Re:Not sure about this one. (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701904)

On Slashdot, you're never alone.

Unless you get modded down below everyone's reading threshold.

Ahh, blessed solitude.

Re:Not sure about this one. (5, Insightful)

LandoCalrizzian (887264) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701020)

I completely agree with this article for the simple fact that I am one of these people. My job requires me to interact with many different types of people on a daily basis. While it has greatly improved my ability to socialize and engage others, I still don't feel like I'm at the top of my game. It's only after everyone leaves work for the day that I can actually put on my headphones and get in the zone but it's so late in the day that I'm usually too tired to stay later or the wife is calling for dinner. TLDR: Spolsky test good. Interaction with people bad.

Re:Not sure about this one. (5, Insightful)

Dupple (1016592) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701132)

Turn up early. My hours are 9-6. I turn up at 7.30am and clear out at 5pm. I get so much done in that early quiet time that I still have time to interact usefully with others. No one questions my hours. I've got the job done.

Re:Not sure about this one. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701458)

When dealing with people, you feel a need to understand how they think, and you basically change how you think for a little time, doing that hundreds of times for every person that walks into your office can get tiring. Think of how brothers or twins or some very close friends that spend a lot of time in each other's company think very much alike, they might not find each other's company tiring.

You need to cultivate body odour (5, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701178)

And other socially repulsive habits. Your problems interacting with other people will go away.
 

Re:You need to cultivate body odour (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701316)

That is one of the many problems which comes with being an avoidant introvert. During my 4 years of college I had to sit through class, but I was able to keep personal interaction with others at a minimum because of the connectivity of the internet and the fact that I had my own dorm room.

After graduating, I lasted about a month at my first job, and I had no idea why until I asked a former co-worker for frank answers outside of work. He told me that I smelled bad, particularly in the groin area, and that they all knew that I was a chronic masturbator because I constantly moaned and grunted involuntarily, one time kneading my penis through my pants while talking to a female administrative assistant. They said that I made people uneasy because I was a mincing, squinting, shifty-eyed bum who often looked like he woke up under bridges. My former co-worker added that, whenever I would accidentally drop something, I would bend all the way over facing opposite others in the area rather than kneel down to pick it up like real men do.

The sad thing is, I just don't care. Thanks to the internet, I can now work from home while simultaneously amusing myself with at least 1 extra monitor dedicated to pornography at all times. I am so desensitized to it all, that I wallow naked and erect in my own food like the popular porn star The Minion (I'll spare you the link, you can search for him yourself).

Re:You need to cultivate body odour (5, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701328)

If ever a post deserved a +5 Troll moderation, it was this one. It starts off so reasonably, and then... well, hopefully you didn't read to the end.

Re:You need to cultivate body odour (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701368)

Indeed. It is utterly disgusting and was obviously written by a sick, maladjusted individual.

Heh.

Re:You need to cultivate body odour (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701878)

But in all probability, the next great software developer.

Re:You need to cultivate body odour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701918)

Indeed. It is utterly disgusting and was obviously written by a sick, maladjusted individual.

A mind forever trolling, through strange seas of booze, alone.

It only took me 20 years to get the Wordsworth reference to Newton in the title of that Infocom game [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Not sure about this one. (4, Insightful)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701094)

I can understand this, I've always worked in an open plan office. While open plan offices have advantages (greater sense of space, easy to talk to co-workers) the major disadvantage is noise. I have often been forced to put a set of headphones in so I can sit and think about what I'm doing. The worst is when project management decided they need to be inside the project (rather than in a seat on the outside of the group) as you end up with project management discussions happening right by you all day. It can be so noisy that I get headaches and that is obviously not good for productivity.

As for collaborative group processes, this is ok as long as your in the right environment. I've set around a table with some Software Engineers and thrown around design concepts. People will listen new ideas are created logical arguments are made and something great will come out the other end. Unfortunately most people in the industry seem to be Software Developers they argue for what they know don't really care about design or documentation and in those environments it's much better to have a dictator who listens to arguments and hands out dictates. Basically I think collaboration should be used when appropriate.

I'm a big fan of scrums they bring a team together help everyone understand what every else is doing. I just like quiet and being able to work for 2 - 3 hours without interruption.

Re:Not sure about this one. (3, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701106)

I can't work for 8 hours straight, so I will take breaks like going on slashdot when I'm alone. Lots of times there's no one around at my work so that's what I do. My lunch breaks are shorter as well, since I usually just eat at my desk for 20 mins and then continue working. But when people are around, I'll socialize with them and the little breaks I have during the day turn into 5-10 mins a pop. Going to lunch with people is even worse, as my 20 min lunch break turns into an hour, sometimes more! Sometimes I wish I were more introverted to get more work done, but then again I realize life isn't all about productivity and gross output.

OT (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700962)

Mihaly has written a good book on the concept of flow, called "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.". Well worth the read imho.

Describes me (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700970)

That all describes me, except for the "spectacularly" verbiage.

lol (4, Informative)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700984)

Reality check for all the morons who want to turn their office into a fun house.

Yea I'm introverted (5, Funny)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701008)

My home office is my 'Fortress of Solitude', safe from distraction of the outside world, incubator of ideas, and infused with the essence of coffee. Now if only I could stop checking Slashdot every fifteen minutes I might get some work done.

Re:Yea I'm introverted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701032)

My home office is my 'Fortress of Solitude', safe from distraction of the outside world, incubator of ideas, and infused with the essence of coffee. Now if only I could stop checking Slashdot every fifteen minutes I might get some work done.

lollol!! you hit the nail on the head there...

Re:Yea I'm introverted (5, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701046)

My home office is my 'Fortress of Solitude'

You misspelled "solitaire".

Re:Yea I'm introverted (5, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701250)

That one's a keeper. :)

A related quip is that MCSE stands for "Minesweeper Champion, Solitaire Expert".

Re:Yea I'm introverted (2)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701208)

This is one of the reasons I like going on transcontinental or transoceanic flights. No interruptions, no interactions. Earplugs in or headphones on, stupid backseat entertainment systems to placate the masses turned off, work materials out, and I get to think, think, think, think.

I've done some of my best work ever in the seat of an airplane.

Re:Yea I'm introverted (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701490)

I come up with the best ideas in the toilet, but I just couldn't explain the 12 hour stay to my boss.

Re:Yea I'm introverted (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701716)

My home office is my 'Fortress of Solitude'

Home office, huh? Are you sure as that reads more like an euphemism of you in the shower thinking of Sarah Palin....

Balance. (5, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701026)

There has to be a balance between one's teamwork and individual creativity.

On the one hand, you can have prima donnas running the whole show, doing really great things that have absolutely nothing to do with actually getting a product out the door.

On the other hand, you can take extreme programming to the extreme, piss of your rock stars, and wind up with them quitting, and get trainwreck product.

Bottom line is that any team management approach needs to be able to milk everyone for the best they've got without stiffing creativity, or putting the wrong people at the helm for the sake alone of giving them a chance to drive.

Just some random thoughts as I sit alone blasting out my Saturday code...

Re:Balance. (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701118)

There has to be a balance between one's teamwork and individual creativity.

But the optimal balance point differs between different personality types.

Re:Balance. (5, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701134)

And that's why there isn't a cookie cutter approach, and why good managers are needed - and often hard to find.

Re:Balance. (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701336)

They're often hard to find because MBAs have crowded them out. Not to mention the hiring from outside and HR trolls.

Re:Balance. (4, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701630)

Well you just committed the ultimate faux pas of the go-go team getters. You must always work as a team, and if you don't, you're not a team player. And as such, you should go find another job.

Really though, most people with a couple of firing braincells already knew that some people are better specialized to working in groups, and others to solitary tasks. The brain specializes itself to it's situation and needs. Leave it to the idiots of psych to think that if you jam people into a group, that it will always result in the best actions and solutions.

Interesting (4, Interesting)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701034)

I recently finished a couple of years of working remotely from home instead of going into an office. I think it was some of the most productive work I've done. I collaborated with other engineers using Jabber, phone, and NetMeeting when needed but otherwise was able to work without interruption (kids are grown and moved out). Not commuting means I also worked longer hours. Yet my new job requires me to commute and be an Office Space drone. Why?

Re:Interesting (5, Interesting)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701192)

I've tried working from home, but I'm much more productive when I'm in office. I live alone, but when I'm not in office I just can't force myself to work as efficiently as in office where I know I have to work or someone will see that I'm procrastinating. Everyone is different, don't assume everyone likes what you like.
Also if you don't like your job, change it. I'm changing it tomorrow (setting and working conditions will be similiar, but programming will be closer to hardware, better pay will be nice too ;) ).

Re:Interesting (5, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701206)

Yet my new job requires me to commute and be an Office Space drone. Why?

Manager Insecurity.

Re:Interesting (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701326)

Oops! I modded "overrated" when I meant to put "underrated".

This post will remove my error.

Mod parent up!

Re:Interesting (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701840)

That's doubtless the main reason, but when it comes down to it, it takes a lot longer to get anything done at home if you actually know how to work. Lately, I've been working internationally and it takes forever to do a back and forth that would take less than 5 minutes at an office.

Even locally you're looking at a time multiplier, unless of course you shut off the email and focus on work, and even then it means that if something doesn't come in just before one checks email it can take a while to learn about it.

Re:Interesting (2)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701962)

So what you're saying is its easier to work at the office because you can get constantly interrupted by someone in person?

As someone who telecommutes a few days a week, I'm much more productive at home without a) a commute and b) without someone coming to me in person to address something that could've been addressed over the phone or via email.

It is disingenuous to believe that "being there" makes you more effective. It only increases the possibility of someone interrupting your productive streaks.

Re:Interesting (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701400)

Because the perception of value is also important. Most managers have very little idea of how much effort is involved in programming. If you are in a cubicle, then they can see how much of your time is spent doing something that looks like working. If you are at home, then they can only judge you by your results and they are not good at judging the value of your results. One solution is to ensure that junior management is capable of doing your job, so that they know how much time it should take. Another is for the company to simply stop caring about how hard it is and work out how much your output is worth to them and pay you appropriately. This works for me as a freelancer: I often work for people on other continents, so they have no way of checking how long things actually take me. If they pay me for a day's worth of work, then they're happy if the results they get are worth (to them) at least the amount that they paid me. If I actually did the work in 10 minutes in between Slashdot posts then they wouldn't actually care, unless someone else was willing and able to do the same work for them for less.

Re:Interesting (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702034)

Security is one reason, if your work requires it.

not around here (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701060)

Our agile internet startup requires communication and collaboration between coworkers. You can't get that if everyone is holed up in their office. Now if you'll excuse me I have to update Pivotal Tracker and our Wiki.

AC
--
cell: 212/555-1212
office: 212-333-4435
fax: 212/444-4747
email :ac@gmale.com
skype: agile_coward
twitter: @agile_coward
facebook.com/agile_coward
jabber: ac@gtalk.com
irc: agile @ openprojects.net
blog: agilecoward.wordpress.com

I knew it all along (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701066)

My recluse-like existence and stolid determination to keep the balance of my communications with The Others in strictly anonymous, online communication mediums doesn't mean I'm a wierdo, it means I'm a genius!

It's 1-0 for me, court-appointed psychologist!

Re:I knew it all along (3, Informative)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701892)

a team environment can sometimes stifle creativity, but working on your own is asking for trouble. not having anyone to bounce ideas off and check your work makes a "homer simpson car" more likely (http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1033/1033363934_dc44fb5b8f_z.jpg?zz=1) than something balanced and profitable.

i find it the least bit surprising that all the introverts are on here giving each other pats on the back, because that would be about as much praise as you all get. just because you think you are the most productive and creative thinkers that come up with awesome ideas on your own doesn't mean anybody else thinks that.

teamwork is productive, but teams need strong leadership. lack of strong leadership is more often the problem in any team than the team concept itself. many people are allocated the leadership role who aren't suited to it or don't care.

people working on their own or at home pose increased risk in terms of productivity because lack of supervision can lead to distraction. with supervision there is a sense of belonging and pressure to perform. it has been my experience that while unrealistic pressure is counterproductive, people need realistic targets to aim for and measure their performance against. its possible to do this on your own; being your own boss requires this or you won't make yourself any money, but working on your own as a salary employee doesn't carry the same personal risk as someone who is self-employed, so any pressure that you impose on yourself is only superficial.

communication and teamwork are key attributes in most professional roles, so if you refuse to acknowledge their importance you are only severely limiting your own opportunities.

Re:I knew it all along (2)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702032)

constantly changing priorities are also a major cause of productivity loss, but that's why teams are important. nobody is perfect on their own, so a "well formed" team can take advantage of the positive attributes of many... the doers, the thinkers, the talkers, the problem solvers, the practicals, the coffee makers, the paper shufflers, the bureaucrats, the scrooges. he will put everyone in the sort of work environment that will best achieve the goal of the team (and if solitude works best for one team member to get a specific task done then he will make it so).

solitude is good for some people, but it is usually only a small piece of a bigger puzzle. solitude on its own rarely achieves much.

a good leader will make the best use of all the personalities in his team (even those that are traditionally frowned upon like bullies and lazies). if he can't, he's not a good leader.

and there are many sayings that support teamwork: "many hands make light work", "two heads are better than one", etc.

"Work well with others" is the lie of the century (5, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701072)

Job offers invariably require applicants to "work well with others" and "enjoy team work". I don't like team work, and I work well with others if I have to, but it's not natural to me.

Well guess what: at each and every job interview I've been to, I lied and pretended I enjoyed working with others, when in reality I like being left the fuck alone to do a good job. Same thing on my resume: if you believe what I put in it, you'd think I'm a social monster. All the folks I know who are a bit of an introvert like I am similariy bullshit their way through job interviews.

Everybody knows it, head hunters know it, employers know it, so why do they carry on asking those "skills"?

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (4, Funny)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701122)

Well.... maybe because putting this on your resume doesn't look so good:

- Capable of refraining from telling co-workers that they're fucking inbred morons who would benefit from a course in remedial keyboarding, and that if they ever check in shit like that again that they'll discover that it is, in fact, possible to insert a 23 inch monitor into an arbitrary orifices.

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701182)

- Capable of refraining from telling co-workers that they're fucking inbred morons who would benefit from a course in remedial keyboarding, and that if they ever check in shit like that again that they'll discover that it is, in fact, possible to insert a 23 inch monitor into an arbitrary orifices.

The problem wasn't that you put that on your resume. It's that when we checked your references we found out you were demonstrably _not_ capable of so refraining.

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701360)

Not to mention the fact that HR is typically where the first few rounds of screening go and they're precisely the sorts of people that engage in those sorts of behaviors.

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (3, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701216)

You forget another, more glamorous possibility: I would very much enjoy putting "capable of concentrating long and hard on any problem, able to work on my own at a problem until it's fully and properly solved" in my resume. In this day and age, where most people seem to glorify short attention spans and teamwork (which is usually just a way dividing the individual brainpower required to perform a certain task, and diluting responsibility when things go wrong), this would seem like a worthwhile skill to offer to an employer.

But no, if you don't pretend you like teamwork and you work well with others in your resume, you can be sure it'll be chucked out in the trashcan right off the bat. It's almost automatic, so much so that it's almost impossible to find a resume *without* that line.

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701434)

Not to any employer. If you've found a company that actually wants (and is willing to pay for) a proper solution, then I suggest that you do everything that you can to make sure you keep your job there. Most companies want a vaguely good-enough solution right now, and if it's a money sink in two years then, well, it will be someone else's responsibility by then...

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701854)

Indeed, I remember an employer a while back that was willing to pay for the bare minimum solution, then cut it back after a while. Needless to say that was a very frustrating place to work if you had any sort of work ethic whatsoever as you could never actually accomplish anything.

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701210)

Everybody knows it, head hunters know it, employers know it, so why do they carry on asking those "skills"?

You told two people you're a people person. Then they told two people they were people persons. And so on, and so on, and so on...

You should be true to yourself (2)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701232)

Otherwise, a couple more years pretending to "enjoy team work" and you'll be up on a water tower with an AW50 taking pot shots at former "team" mates.
 

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701428)

Well guess what: at each and every job interview I've been to, I lied and pretended I enjoyed working with others, when in reality I like being left the fuck alone to do a good job.

The obvious questions that come to mind are how many jobs and how many interviews? Is all that BS you've been peddling getting what you need and what you want?

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702008)

Serious question: do you still work at Microsoft?

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (4, Insightful)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701444)

Everybody knows it, head hunters know it, employers know it, so why do they carry on asking those "skills"?

Because as Marti Olsen [amazon.com] points out, the majority of people are extroverts, and assume anyone who is not like them is defective. So extroverts love brainstorming, group think and other social work environments, so they think everyone should enjoy it and demand it in others.

The right answer is, as other people have said on this thread, balance. Sometimes we should work together, but also sometimes we should leave each other the f--- alone.

But because extroverts tend to be disconnected from facts and experience, they instead remember when they were happiest which was brainstorming sessions or other team activities. Thus they demand it.

To be fair, that's only about 30% of the hiring managers out there. The other 70% actually want people with political skills. The ability to negotiate with people they disagree with, to get people to go along with an idea, to contribute to the group when required instead of being a lone wolf causing problems or sniping. Introverts make excellent politicians in this regard--usually the Karl Rove backroom operator or chief-of-staff. But it's somehow off-putting to state: "Don't be an obstinate asshole who has to get his way and bullies others to achieve his goals -- yes, that means not you, John Bolton [wikipedia.org] ." on the job posting.

So just look at "work well with others" and "enjoy team work" to mean you're not a douchebag or a dickhead. It doesn't necessarily mean you are a people person.

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (3)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701584)

So extroverts love brainstorming, group think and other social work environments, so they think everyone should enjoy it and demand it in others.

You're giving them too much credit. First principles - they enjoy listening to themselves talk, and the others are only waiting for their turn to talk. A "circle jerk," if you will.

Re:"Work well with others" is the lie of the centu (4, Insightful)

happyhamster (134378) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701578)

>> Everybody knows it, head hunters know it, employers know it, so why do they carry on asking those "skills"?

It's a submission ritual. By asking you a silly question and evaluating your answer, they judge how much you are willing to play by the rules, no matter how ridiculous.

Depends on the work. (5, Insightful)

atticus9 (1801640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701080)

I work best alone when I'm trying to solve a problem that I'm really passionate about. Sadly a lot of times that doesn't describe what I get paid for, and in those cases having a group around me helps to stay on task. if I'm alone, I'm fighting against myself the whole time to stay focused and not work on what I think is interesting.

Re:Depends on the work. (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701218)

This. There are many kinds of people. Some will like it this way (like me) or the other way. The best thing is to liv with it and just find your niche/best workplace.

Re:Depends on the work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701996)

You nailed it, in my opinion.
There's lots of work I can do alone just fine.
But sometimes there is work which I don't do so well alone. For those jobs, if I'm working one-on-one with the boss or client, I'll output like a coke addict mainlining bull semen.

On Reason I chose IT (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701096)

One reasons I chose IT was to be able to avoid large groups of people. I have had the unfortunate experience of cube hell like most techies, but all in all, I have had the ability to work alone for much of my almost 15 year IT tenure. I absolutely love working alone.

One of the reasons I hate group projects is because once I know what needs to be done, I just want to get to work. Other people want to talk and swap ideas. Like a lot of people, I just have a sense of what needs doing and I do it. I want to sink or swim on my own, not sink or swim because of someone else. I don't mind sharing ideas, but I despise "groupthink", "hive mind", whatever you want to call it. God gave me a brain and I know how to use it.

It's hard to get a word in edgewise... (5, Insightful)

aardquark (752735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701102)

in my organization, because meetings are a part of the culture, and in meetings, the loudest voice dominates. Bullys aren't just in the playground, you know. I much prefer electronic collaboration (the article notes that this works better), it provides a level playing field for the soft, introverted voice.

I've seen that in programmers (0)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701108)

The introverts were inevitably the most productive, yet ultimately bad for business. If you let them run ahead on applications, you end up being one deep in an app and that gives one person an unhealthy amount of power in the workplace.

In extreme cases I've seen the lone wolf carve out a place for himself and demand more money after squeezing out other staff. That's when it becomes a detriment to the company.

Re:I've seen that in programmers (2)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701668)

..and my anecdotal observations over the years shows the extraverts too busy playing politics and other social games to produce quality work, even under the rare occasion when they are in fact good programmers. their social insecurities get in the way of the job. it was usually the lone wolf(ves) who don't care what happened in the football game last night, and don't care about irrelevancies like dress shirts and ties, now putting in extra hours, that saved the day. in today's age of bloated, buggy, half-assed, software, I can't help but think that this is, in part, due to management incorrectly prioritizing the attributes of programmer hires. they now select sociability with extreme bias, while actual programming skills are near the bottom of the list, then have to resort to gimmicks like 'agile programming' and hire additional employees of similar ilk to compensate.

Re:I've seen that in programmers (-1, Troll)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701966)

And the people who were the problem would say something just like that. An attitude that's part arrogance and part extreme social ineptitude.

Other programmers may not be as intelligent or focused, but that doesn't mean that the lone wolves are good for the company. Projects still get done on time if you fire their know-it-all ass, which is fun by the way, and boosts moral in the whole office. A lead programmer with some tact and decorum who spends a little bit of the day sharing knowledge with his or her peers is a lot better for business and lot less toxic for the office atmosphere.

No absolutes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701146)

Solitude increases your productivity if you have the personality type that needs it. Otherwise it might have the opposite effect. Even if your prefer long blocks of solitude, you probably still need some input from others. I've seen this in my own life. Yes, I like a good solid block of time. OTOH, if I don't have somebody else that needs what I produce during those times then my work stagnates or goes off in directions that are less productive. That's not to say I can't do anyting purely for the desire of creating it. It's just that it's less efficient.

There's a bit more of the "wolf pack" in some of us geeks than we'd like to admit. Take away the pack, and the lone wolf sorta dies... usually. There are exceptions; but they're rare. Even Isaac Newton who was famously reluctant to reveal his work corresponded with Leibnitz.

Re:No absolutes (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701230)

I have an avoidant personality. Put me among people and I become occupationally frozen. Let me stay in my room for a month and I will hand off to you a masterpiece, since I will be able to put all my concentration into it. Luckily, I don't do software (except for myself), so I can afford to do this. Yes, I can very well imagine that there are people who are the exact opposite.

For work, yes. For my personal life, no. (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701184)

I work best when not bothered. I don't work in IT, but if I'm doing anything from actual work to tinkering in the garage, I like to be alone. For my personal life, though, I'm definitely a extrovert. I love being out and about with new people, living it up. I'm not shy.

Too much of either and I'm unhappy.

IM (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701200)

There is a very good reason for our team to generally favor using our internal IM server even to the co-worker sitting next to you. Coding is creative, and an IM is much less interruptive than someone walking over to your desk and demanding your attention right now.

(Hint: Disable audio notifications.)

Re:IM (1)

bipbop (1144919) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701564)

I work much better if I disable all notifications, and only find out I have an IM when I decide to check them.

Public education (4, Interesting)

pcwhalen (230935) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701260)

Public schools always cater to the lowest common denominator. They are more a tool for socialization than education, readying a workforce for a life of 9 to 5 conformity. I don't recall innovative thought being rewarded in school. Memorization, maybe.

Thus, the movement for home schooling. [http://www.nationalhomeschool.com/socialization.asp]

Most teachers don't want or have time to teach each child as an individual. It's not their fault. Grading and assessment alone would overwhelm them. Finding the material to challenge each student's ability individually would be impossible with given resources and mindset.

It is a tribute to our children's tenacity that so many succeed despite the public school system.

Re:Public education (-1, Troll)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701450)

Public schools do enforce conformity, but its what they are trying to enforce conformity with that drives home schooling. I know this will get modded to hell, but it's the promotion of an extreme far-left agenda that drives parents to home-schooling despite the many challenges. There are innumerable examples, but the straw that broke the camel's back was the sexualization of children, both forcing conventional sex education on lower and lower ages, and the promotion of mental disease/sexual perversion (i.e homosexuality) as an acceptable and normal practice.

        The entire public educational system, currently, is one continual assault on traditional American values of patriotism, personal responsibility, and religion. I don't have kids but I sure would want to expose them to the sort of sick and failed notions of ex-hippies and "social activists".

        You can argue all you want, or, far more likely, mod me down so you wonderfully tolerant folks never have to see something that contradicts your personal belief system, but that's what is leading to homeschooling.

      Brett

Re:Public education (2)

naroom (1560139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701658)

You can argue all you want,

Yay! In that case:

Public schools are funded primarily by local property taxes [umich.edu] , which means middle- and lower-class parents are given a choice of either (1) moving to a rich area, or (2) putting their kids through the poorly-funded schools they have access to. It has nothing to do with values; it's just money. Home schooling is a practical alternative if you can't afford the "cost" of a good public school.

But if you want to talk values? The far right has plenty to own up to, too. Teaching creationism is insane and harmful. Pushing religion and sexual ideals onto naive kids is repressive and goes against the values of religious tolerance and freedom that are the ideals of the US.

Lastly, you note:

I don't have kids

So why do you even care about what the schools teach?

Re:Public education (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701898)

It's scary as hell that you consider basic tolerance for gay people in inclusion in society an "extreme far-left agenda."

Re:Public education (1)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702022)

Those beliefs are certainly one factor in home schooling, but many of the original pioneers actually were hippies, and there is still a significant non-religious contingent.

Re:Public education (0)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701572)

Memorization is important. Childhood innovations are generally moronic, because the kids haven't yet learned the basic facts of the universe. I recall some of my childhood "inventions"... thinking that I could make a laser by pointing a couple mirrors at each other and shining a flashlight inside. Or that I could generate unlimited electricity with a series of transformers (arbitrarily high voltage!). Or that I could design a programming language that compiled plain English instead of (what seemed to be) needlessly arcane languages we were forced to learn. Or that I could make a perfect cooler by having a layer of ice contained within an airtight seal, the idea being that the ice shrinks when it melts, but since there's nothing to fill the gap, it wouldn't be able to melt. I could go on.

Learning basic facts is essential. It only dampens creativity in the sense that kids no longer waste time thinking about inventions that are logically impossible, and instead can focus their talents on ideas that have a chance of working.

Re:Public education (1)

naroom (1560139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701700)

Please do go on! I have just filed patents on all of those. Soon I'll be rich, just like the tech companies!

Re:Public education (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701950)

They are more a tool for socialization than education, readying a workforce for a life of 9 to 5 conformity.

There is a difference between readying a child for the menial job they're probably going to get, and socialisation, which suggest pushing a child to a menial job, If the schools systematically promised children amazing careers where they would get paid for doing what they loved, and failed to prepare them for what they were likely to get, then I'd say the school system would have a critical hole in it that needed to plugged as soon as possible.

Groupthink (5, Interesting)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701262)

Social groups deter any kind of radical thought or behavior. That's the groupthink [wikipedia.org] phenomenon. The larger the group, the stronger the effect. That's why creativity never thrives in large organizations, and that's the reason the most creative social construct is the single person who does not need to compromise his or her ideas for the harmony of the group.

I roll my eyes every time I hear an organization of thousands of people is proclaiming it fosters innovation (or diversity, but that's another story [utwente.nl] ).

Balance (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701264)

Good ideas come from brainstorming, but working out HOW to implement those ideas requires quiet thought.

If that's the case... (1)

doc_holliday814 (726060) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701276)

...there must be a lot of productive people here on Slashdot.

Introvert (5, Informative)

Avarist (2453728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701278)

People need to understand what being Introvert actually means. Being social or easily small-talking doesn't make someone extrovert, and you can't be 'extrovert' for this and that but 'introvert' for these. It just doesn't work that way. Introversion is taking energy in mentally from being alone and being exhausted mentally by exposure to groups for a while. Extroversion is taking energy in from social interactions while being depleted when alone. You wouldn't have to be a genius then to come to Susan Cain's conclusion.

Conflicting Research (2)

tshak (173364) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701292)

Multiple studies, at least within the context of software development, seem to be in conflict:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001206144705.htm [sciencedaily.com]

Re:Conflicting Research (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701338)

I might see that working for certain types of teams.

But in general, I see imposing that on high end devs as a sure fire way to get them to walk right out the door.

Re:Conflicting Research (2)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701378)

PS: This article is from 2000. Interesting that in 12 years, this "war room" style programming never caught on. And while agile has (an approach of which I am a supporter), the paired/extreme programming approach for all tasks has not in general caught on so much.

Some things are done well by group - major design decisions and such, were input from multiple sources is critical (though, it is necessary that folks do their homework before their groups). Others, like figuring out convoluted logic - not so much.

Re:Conflicting Research (1)

tshak (173364) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701802)

I wouldn't discount research based on the research date. If the research is accurate there's no reason that time would be a factor, unless better studies were conducted and drew a different conclusion. If you're interested, do some research on the topic and you'll find that many companies from startups to major corporations utilize some form of open work spaces.

Re:Conflicting Research (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701510)

No conflict. If you put people together in a dedicated space with little distraction, everyone's focus on the goal tends to make you retain the same focus. On the other hand, if you dole out tasks and tell everyone to go do things the best way they can, many programmers will go sit heads-down and crank out code.

In the middle, where you have to get along with your team and brainstorm and plan and meet, that's pretty much the definition of not writing code.

Conversations like "Hey did you see the game last night?" are minimal in the war room and individual scenarios, but common in the charisma/brainstorm scenario. Who the hell brainstorms for coding, anyway?

Re:Conflicting Research (1)

Frans Faase (648933) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701858)

I think I score strong on the introvert personality scale, but I also score on the open scale quite strong, meaning that I quickly distracted by thing going around me (the Internet mostly). I often find work boring, because it does not mix with my own interests, thinking about problems that I find interesting. My interest change quickly. I guess this is also related to me being an introvert, that I often find it interesting to think about all those little puzzles that go through my mind and that I would like to solve. I feel it is only rarely that I am really productive in the office, and that is when I am can work on something that does match with my interests (parsing and such) or when I am called to solve a problem, especially when this problem involves others as well and when there is some element of competition. When I heard about XP, I was quite charmed by the idea of pair programming. I have never really practice it with others. I do think it is a good way of working for developing software, but I also know that for some of the harder problems it is sometimes needed to think about an issue in solitude. In my workplace we often discus software developing problems. I do like to discuss options with my colleagues, often because I am lateral thinker and see many possible solutions to problems and often find me in a position where I take a long time to take a decision. Generating solutions is not the hard part for me, but selecting the best solution for the moment. I say, moment, because, often problems require 'quick' solutions and not 'good' solutions. So cooperations is important for me.

1/3 height cubes do not boost productivity. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701320)

My job about a year ago switched from full height cubes to 1/3rd height cubes where even when sitting you can see everybody and everything. The thought was that it would increase group thinking and productivity as you would be able to communicate with more people in a "group" setting while still being at your own work station.

In reality noise went up greatly, productivity went down greatly and communication consist of mindless jabber and gossip. It's fun for about half an hour until you realise that you have deadlines and metrics to meet. No I need to put on a good pair of isolating headphone just to get the same amount of productivity as I was able to before with "trips to others cubes"

FUCK YES!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701358)

FUCK YES!!

Yes! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701366)

I am better than other people because I am introverted! I always knew this was true, but now I can lecture others as to why I am better than they are but now with lots of proof!

where did this come from (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701380)

Is there any research (after all, we are talking science) to support this? Forget solitude and playing games, I know for myself if I sit quietly for a long time, I go to sleep. If I have music going, people talking, walking around, doing a lot of different things, thats when I become creative...

Disagreement. (1)

RandomAvatar (2487198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701390)

I would have to strongly disagree with this argument. Working in solitude is not better than working in a group is not better than working in solitude, it is just different. The only way one is better or worse than the other is when it comes down to the characteristics of the individual person.

I agree. (2)

ryanw (131814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701392)

Having developed many projects, I personally can attest that I don't get anything productive done until everybody is asleep or if I decide to tune everybody out. It seems like there are too many real and "potential" distractions that my mind is chewing on instead of coming up with solutions to problems.

I have found it helpful to come together as a group once I have had plenty of time to think about what I want to do, along with the others having that same opportunity. That way we can have a discussion about ideas that have been thought through instead of just winging it.

Reminds me of the old joke... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701504)

How can you tell an introverted software developer from an extroverted one?

When an introverted programmer talks to you, he stares at his shoes.
When an extroverted programmer talks to you, he stares as your shoes.

It's worse in Academia (4, Interesting)

ExecutorElassus (1202245) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701674)

There's a lovely article written by epistemological philosopher Susan Haack (who was teaching philosophy at the University of Miami at print time) titled "Preposterism and its Consequences." The book is "Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate." Her central argument is this: philosophy is a contemplative discipline, and as such sometimes requires years of effort to be spent pursuing a line of investigation - usually in solitude - that may turn out fruitless. But the present culture of frequent publication - that any professor seeking tenure or stature must demonstrate a frequent presence in scholarly journals, at conferences, &c. &c. - forces academics into a sort of busywork that completely disrupts any real progress they might make.

It's the same idea here: "productivity" shall be measured by the degree to which an individual exchanges information with other individuals, without anybody questioning whether that information is actually useful or productive. In contrast, look at the guy who solved Fermat's Theorem: from what I remember, he spent a couple decades hiding in his attic, everybody thinking he'd flamed out and turned into a recluse.

I'm also in a creative field (music), and the only way I can get anything useful done is to work from 23:00 to 04:00. The consequence of keeping those hours is that I'm mostly useless during business hours, so I'm a bit of a recluse in my department. I wish people like that (me), who need time away from, you know, people, would have their work ethic viewed more favorably, instead of it being an eccentric social shortcoming.

Good old Einstein... (4, Insightful)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701684)

claimed that he liked working at the patent office as the quiet allowed him to think.

Uber Techs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701710)

I am in the mainframe business, and I have always said the more technical skills you have, the less inter-personal skills you have...

Locations of solitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701778)

There are still locations of solitude in my (work)life:
a) My office when no colleque is sharing my office (approx half a week)
b) Walking to the office
c) The room where you normally go alone (exceptions are girls and women which violate that constraint on occasion)
d) My shower

However, the problem with best locations (b-d), I normally do not have appropriate thought recording devices there, resulting in less efficiency.

Solitude, privacy & military-industrial comple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701780)

The "big box stores" of the defense industry (Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin) absolutely will NOT give the beginning or experienced engineers any privacy (think "cube" of 48 sq feet). Maybe in the case of the fellow-level engineers they might be assigned a cube with a door (but the walls do NOT go to the ceiling). One can enjoy the all the noise of fellow social misfits who don't understand (or care) that their voices travel, their lunch stinks and voice mail should not be reviewed using speaker phone.

I've worked for all three and the "leadership" (not to be confused with simple project management drones) don't understand the concept of personal space. They all feel we should enjoy the "synergy", "diversity" and "insert your least favorite buzz phrase here".

Absolutely True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701942)

All the below are the joy of your friendly IT guy. Gone are the days you could let yourself grow a beard and go evangelizing about freedom, all that's remained is put your earplugs on and play Angry Birds.

Statistics of office time, high end IT corporate:
20% Coffee Machine chat, talking about the weather, your stock options, the food in the kitchen and any other business relevant subject
30% Meetings. No further description necessary as that's exactly the productive outcome of all of them: absolutely nothing.
20% Someone screaming in panic for some problem that does not exist or has no relevance whatsoever, but still fills the working day of everyboy
5% Finding back a free chair, reconnecting power and network someone has stolen from your laptop, recovering all lost sessions, uh where's the laptop?
10% Trying to discern useful emails from false positive from the monitoring system and useless conversations running on empty
8% desperately try to find concentration by sending away all sorts people coming ask silly questions
2% working, creating, creating solutions while concentrated

All this naturally is different when Corporate stuff comes through, in that case the items above make space for
20% finding anything amongst the corporate IT resources
30% trying to understand the HR system, have it working, fight with someone in India to get the right free days and such
38% waiting while antivirus/antimalware/unattended reboots/lockups/hardware faults happen on your working system

Yes, I know the total is more than 100%.

Yes (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701958)

"Brainstorming" is just a way for managers to claim part ownership of creative ideas other people already had before going into the "Brainstorming" session.

It's one of those "nobody-left-behind" ideas where everybody gets to give input while the actual creative people have to listen to all the bullshit going on.
I've had to listen in on hour-long brainstorming sessions where everybody gets to spew their ideas without interruption, only to have some guy at the end (they always have the guy who actually knows what he's talking about at the end) explain their "solutions" weren't actually addressing the question at hand. The only things they seem to do is let everybody claim ownership in the idea the one smart guy already head before going into the room, simply because they were in the same meeting where he first announced it.

Anybody who thinks creativity can come from formal meetings has obviously never had a creative idea in their entire life.

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