Do people solve problems better together when they know each other or when they don’t?
Collaborating Minds is built on the idea that people solve problems better together when they know each other in particular ways, but we are struggling in the following ways:
- It’s challenging to make members get to know other members; and
- There’s some arguments out there that suggest we might even be wrong (that is, succeeding would be a poor idea even if it is possible!)
We’ll present the arguments and ask you to share your comments and ideas.
The upside of Collaborating Minds for problem-solving
Collaborating Minds is built on the premise that people who have helped each other and been helped by others will form a connection that lets them work together better. Essentially, they will trust each other deeply. This bond makes difficult discussions easier, increases mutual support, furthers our willingness to understand each other—even when it’s a struggle–and strengthens our desire for joint success — all characteristics of superior problem solving teams.
The downside of being in a group for problem solving
The biggest downside is groupthink. The stronger a social group, the more likely its members will agree with what the group seems to think rather than voicing their independent thinking.
Another possible downside for individuals occurs when their initial connection to one member introduces them to more members that may change them. A “weak tie” describes the connection between someone who doesn’t know the other people in their connected person’s network. Alternatively, when someone does get to know people in their connected person’s network, they become a “strong tie.”
Mark Granovetter showed how weak ties are invaluable, because they know of opportunities (e.g., jobs, romantic opportunities) unknown to you. Naturally, different networks know different things and that’s why going outside of your network grants you access to information new to you. It’s not clear how a “weak tie” loses access to the value available through remote connections. Just because a person becomes better connected or embedded in another person’s network , they may not change but the argument can be made that they would.
What do you think?
Does group problem solving benefit when people all know each other and help each other? Why do you say what you say? Does your answer change under different circumstances or in different contexts?