Collaboration Kills Creativity

Work is always better when someone does it alone. Even when it’s bad.

The world is full of things made by committee. It’s because it’s efficient. I see this when I coordinate teams – of video game players, of writers, of marketers.

When everyone gives their opinion on a project, the project is completed with minimum fuss. It works, it’s safe. And it rarely is interesting. It’s never fantastic.

But when I give someone the autonomy to disappear for a couple of days and come back with something vomited from the depts of their soul?

It may be a failure, it may not work. It might be that nobody likes it. But you know it’s the real thing. It’s art. It was born of the song sung by a person’s soul, without interference from outside forces. And when is it good, when it does work? It is transformative.

Even if the interference comes from someone who knows more, who has better taste, who is more experienced and has more technical ability – it does not matter. Even if it is technically and artistically “better”, it loses the individual stamp, the personal commitment.

There are many companies claiming to be “failure friendly.” But they waste the potential of the concept. While proclaiming that there is no problem in failing, they make sure that all work passes through a sieve of consensus, to ensure quality.

There is a certain time for the peer group’s opinion, for the masters’ suggestions, for quality control by the boss. That time is after having a prototype built, a first draft done, a project tested.

The group helps you decide if it’s good, or if it’s bad. If it’s salvageable, or condemned. Whether it is perfect, or where it can be improved.

But the genesis, the act of creation, the idea – this has to belong to the individual.

Because showing our idea – or as close to reality as we can bring it – is a thousand times more precise than explaining it.

In Victory and In Defeat

“If you keep feeling the bite of a point that has been sharpened, the point will not stay sharp for long. (…) When the work is finished, and one’s name is being distinguished, the way of Heaven is in withdrawing into obscurity. ”

– Tao Te Ching, Verse 9

If your attitude was correct, if the path traveled was noble, the result is of secondary concern. The merit or demerit is never exclusively yours – Fortune always has Her say.

Celebrate victory with the ones closest to you, with good posture, generosity and in moderation. Ostentation drives away friends, and envy drives enemies to action.

Suffer defeat with dignity. Seek support from those closest to you and whom you trust, but don’t shy away from your responsibility in the matter – do not expose them to bitterness, do not make them bear witness to your resentment.

Nothing dissolves friendships faster. Any good person understands the pain and suffering borne by his or her fellow human. But nobody loves people who resent life and Fortune. Nobody likes a crybaby.

If the “point” of defeat bites you so unbearably, then you need to be defeated more often, until it loses its sharpness.