A good friend of mine in the ad biz, Chad Caufield of MMB in Boston, sent me a link to a Ted Talk entitled, "The Power Of Introverts," given by Susan Cain. The talk fascinated me because her central theme was that introverts are some of the world's great thinkers, but do not fit in an otherwise extroverted world. We risk, therefore, missing out on their thinking for essentially superficial social reasons.
It got me thinking about Ideasicle and our virtual ideation model. More on that in a minute. First, here's the Ted Talk. Trust me, it's well worth the time.
"I'm not in my natural milieu."
This talk made me imagine an introvert walking into a typical brainstorm at a typical agency (or client). The room is full of people, they are expected to speak with very little thinking, collaborate and build on each other's ideas.
Can you say, as Cain puts it, "I'm not in my natural milieu"? It must be hell for any introvert. Something I had never considered until Chad sent me the link above.
So the extroverts in the brainstorm, like me, dominate the conversation and misdiagnose a lack of contributions from some as a lack of ideas. How wrong were we?
Think of the ideas we didn't capture. The pitches we didn't win. The Cannes Lions we never got to polish. All because of the arrogance of extroverts (like me) forcing introverts to play by extroverted rules.
All of this got me thinking about how Ideasicle - quite by accident, mind you - accommodates introverts due to its virtual nature.
Let me explain.
When it's all about the ideas, it's never about personality.
Ideasicle happens to be a 100% virtual model. There are no in-person meetings. No meetings at all, in fact. We post the brief on the site, invite the experts in, they can see each other's posts, comment on them, build on them, post their own ideas.
But they do all of this alone and from wherever they are. The comfort of home, on the train, at lunch. Whenever and wherever they are most comfortable, be they introverts or extroverts.
Better yet, bolder personalities - and we have some in our virtual ranks - can't use their usual charm and charisma to sell their point of view because all the experts look the same in the virtual space. They are all reduced to a typeface. You can't be louder, you can only be better.
I asked the more introverted of my experts what they thought of our virtual world and got this:
What I like about the Ideasicle model is that it allows me to honor the rhythms of how my creative brain works and contribute in big lumps (how it typically comes), then retreat and recharge, and plug back in later when I'm ready for more.
I am definitely an extroverted introvert. What that means is that I can turn myself on when need be, but that it saps my energy rather than feeding it. As such, I find the virtual model MUCH better than in-person brainstorming. Particularly because you don’t feel forced to lend output based on a time frame. The dynamic of in-person tends to reward speed to an undue degree over smart. So you might arrive at ideas faster, but lots of times, those ideas gain momentum before anyone has a chance to question if they are really good.
I find that traditional brainstorms can be fun and productive, but the collective energy of a face-to-face group and its dynamics can be exhausting. As Amy Schumer says, “if you’re a true introvert, other people are basically energy vampires.” Ideasicle strips away the social aspects of brainstorming — things like personality dynamics, politicking, and small talk --- and distills interaction down to the simple exchange of ideas. It's a rare thing to get to work in a group where it doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having, what I’m wearing, or what the weather is. It’s freeing.
So I guess nothing is unthinkable for introverts and extroverts alike. Still, I feel a little guilty.
I'm sorry, introverts.
To close, I'd just like to apologize to all the introverts I have personally overwhelmed, overpowered, dismissed, or otherwise refused to acknowledge. I just hope I can make it up to you with Ideasicle, which it turns out might just be an introvert's milieu.
Now get out there and be introverted or extroverted. Here, it doesn't matter anymore!