To hell with teamwork

With all respect to the Lakers, that's the unvarnished message behind a new book called "I Hate People," reviewed in today's WSJ. The basic message from authors Jonathan Littman and Marc Hershon is that working with others is much less rewarding - and successful - than it's often cracked up to be. Frankly, it's amazing that this remains a revolutionary notion. After all, there's only one person with your best interest at heart - and it's not the guy in the cubicle across the way. They recommend the practice of "solocrafting" where the focus is on getting the job done - yourself.

Teamwork, the authors say, suffocates creativity and has its own limitations. They describe a classic experiment done nearly a century ago by French agricultural engineer Maximilien Ringelmann. He measured people pulling on a rope connected to a strain gauge, first as individuals and then as members of tug-of-war teams. The result: A person pulls harder alone than as part of a group. Ringelmann dubbed the phenomenon "social loafing." Today it is known simply as the Ringelmann Effect, and what it means in the real world, say Messrs. Littman and Hershon, is that "the more people you throw at a problem, the less each contributes.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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