GRE Issue Essay 28

“Truly innovative ideas do not arise from groups of people, but from individuals. When groups try to be creative, the members force each other to compromise and, as a result, creative ideas tend to be weakened and made more conventional. Most original ideas arise from individuals working alone.”

Man has stayed in groups and tribes since the Stone Age and in the present time people have been segregated into groups based on political, religious, organizational and regional demarcations. Man has learnt to adjust to the requirements of other men while trying to survive with them. However, it is the inherent quality of humans that they tend to stick to their opinions and they contest the views of others. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that a group of people will agree with the opinions of each other. Hence, it is but natural that when it comes to thinking of innovative ideas, it is eventually an individual who arrives at an idea which may be termed as an important milestone of the era in which it has been thought. Even if a team has succeeded in coming out with an innovative idea, it is the work of an individual designated as the team leader who has successfully managed to keep the original idea close to what was originally thought of.

We all have been witness to uproars in the national assemblies over some issue or the other. People who have been elected as leaders by us have failed to arrive at a definite conclusion because of their difference in opinions. Most of the major innovations and inventions in history have been the outcome of the work of individuals. Consider the invention of the light bulb or the formulation of the theories of relativity and gravity; in each case it was the work of an individual: Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. These scientists may have been working with a team of researchers at a later stage in the development of their theories, but the first idea had come to an individual. The famous ‘Eureka’ idea of Archimedes led to the formulation of the Archimedes principle. Could this have happened if there was a group of people in the same situation?

The research department of every business organization consists of a team of individuals who are committed towards thinking of innovative ideas for improving the sales of the organization. The innovative ideas may be related to the constitution of a new product being marketed by the organization or the publicity campaign for the company’s products. Irrespective of the number of members in the team or group assembled for carrying out creative work, it is always the innovative ideas and enterprise of the team leader or any one individual member of the group that makes all the difference. If the team is left on its own, the strong undercurrents of disagreement among the team members are bound to make them arrive at a conclusion that is much more weak as compared to the original idea which must have been the outcome of the thought process of an individual. There is a hierarchy system in all organizations wherein there is a research head, which in turn is answerable to another boss and there is a final authority who is the owner of the company. Why has this system been established? This has been done because it is an established fact that there is the requirement of an individual who will make the final decision. Even if the group has arrived at an innovative idea as a result of healthy discussions there are bound to be people in the group who are going to oppose some or the other aspect of the idea leading to weakening of the original idea.

It is a debatable issue whether this innovative thinking is the result of group thinking or individual ideas. The latest innovations in technology are by and large arrived at by teamwork spread over a number of years despite the fact that the first idea would have come to an individual only. However, if it is a team which is working on a creative task, their discussions will have to be closely monitored by a higher authority or else the innovative idea is bound to be weakened quite unlike the case when an individual is working on the same task.