Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Those Who Collaborate Get Ahead


I sometimes run into colleagues who say that they are too busy to spend time in a collaboration work space or go to an event. They are too busy working to come up with ideas. I think such people will have a hard time coming up with any valuable ideas. They will get things done in the short run. But they will lag behind in the long run.

Richard Hamming puts it this way in his essay You and Your Research:
I notice that if you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But 10 years later somehow you don't quite know what problems are worth working on … He who works with the door open gets all kinds of interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and what might be important. … [T]here is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder.
Good ideas heavily reliant on serendipity. Putting your nose to the grindstone will certainly get things done, but when you want to create something that is new and innovative, derive inspiration through chance discoveries. You will have a better career and a better life in the long run.

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