Collaboration, cooperation, communities of practice, collective intelligence, and similar concepts have become very popular concepts in society, business, and education. Any system of organization must pay utmost homage to the primacy of the individual. Wisdom of the crowds is often misinterpreted as suggesting that people are intelligent when they think together. It’s more accurate to say that people are intelligent when they think alone and that this intelligence is amplified when they connect. It’s a subtle but vital distinction. A homogeneous group is often not very effective at creativity. Individual diversity, connected, produces substantial advances. A group can refine, extend, augment, and even perfect certain concepts and ideas. But, as this paper states – Why group norms kill creativity:
Unfortunately groups only rarely foment great ideas because people in them are powerfully shaped by group norms: the unwritten rules which describe how individuals in a group ‘are’ and how they ‘ought’ to behave. Norms influence what people believe is right and wrong just as surely as real laws, but with none of the permanence or transparency of written regulations…the unwritten rules of the group, therefore, determined what its members considered creative. In effect groups had redefined creativity as conformity.