Why are we connecting and community building?

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:

  1. It’s challenging to make members get to know other members; and
  2. 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?


3 Responses to Why are we connecting and community building?

  1. Obrike Efetobor June 27, 2014 at 5:48 am #

    When people get to know one another better, the barrier that would normally prevent information sharing for better problem solving is removed.

    Why would I share critical information with someone I barely know anything about? He might use my information and take credit for it without my knowledge.

    We can not have better problem solving in a group without the members feeling secured and most people are secured with sharing valuable information with close friends rather than with a total stranger.

    In life, there is always an exception to every school of thought. On some few occasions that I have witnessed, strangers would come together to proffer solutions to problem resulting from a common enemy.

  2. JimMcGee June 27, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Trust is something that you build over time. You risk sharing a little, you get a positive response, and you start a virtuous cycle. That’s our goal. I don’t know any better way to work on that problem other than one little step at a time.

  3. Gareth Lewis July 15, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I believe that problems are best solved when all of those involved are so committed to solving the problem that the normal social dynamics of group thinking, as mentioned in the post, no longer play a part. This best occurs with those who know each other well, and know to put the solution first above their own individual contribution, but it also works between people who have never met previously! Focusing on the goal – not on the ego – is the key.

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