I’m a big fan of collaboration. But like everybody else, I spend hours every day in meetings. Too many hours. Hours that I could be sitting in my office, getting work done.
Now, some companies are taking action. Edmunds.com, the web site for car buyers, has a new policy: No meetings allowed on Thursdays. The hope is that in this new solo time, people will come up with creative ideas. I like it! But, as a creativity researcher, I’m nervous about some of the subtle messages being sent.
First of all, the title: “Thinking Thursdays.” It implies that no one is thinking when they’re in a meeting. Which of course is silly; lots of great thoughts emerge from conversations. There’s a lot of collective thinking that can only happen when you bring a variety of people together.
Second, there’s the assumption that people can only be creative when they’re alone. It’s true that the research shows that you need some solitary time. But research also shows that you need frequent conversations and collaborations to achieve your creative potential.
Still, it’s a good policy if your company has too many meetings, if there’s no time to be alone. Maximum creativity comes from a good balance of group time and solo time.
Do you have stories of how your company helps you to carve out space for solitary time?