+1 The Creativity of Relationships

I usually think better when I’m talking with someone.

There’s something about the process of sharing an idea that instantly makes it better. There’s the obvious aspect of this, which is getting good feedback from another person and iterating on an idea until it gets better and better. But I’m talking about something else. There are times when the person I’m with isn’t even saying much, but just by being with them the things that come out of my mouth are better than what I’d come up with sitting at my desk somewhere by myself.

What the heck is that?  Is this just me – or do other people experience this too?

That’s why I like this Two Is the Magic Number piece by Joshua Wolf Shenk at Slate. It works to defuse the stereotype of the rugged individualist creator type. I like it, not because I think all creativity comes out of relationships – but because I think a heck of a lot of it does.

There does seem to be something about the process of connecting with someone that is intrinsically good for the process of creation. Organizations that are good at connecting also tend to be good at creating things that people like. Yeah, sure, much of that comes from having conversations with customers and other constituencies and actually asking them what they want. But I also wonder if there’s not something else going on here as well – that same magic that comes from connecting with others while you’re figuring out how to create something – that thing that makes my jumble of ideas take better form when I actually say them to someone.


  1. Andrew Burkhalter had a CS professor who made them all bring stuffed animals to class. They weren’t allowed to ask a question of another person until they had formulated it for their stuffed animal.

    • That’s it. I’m going upstairs right now to get one of the boys’ old stuffies. I think one of the dogs will be a good choice. They have more sympathetic expressions on their face.

  2. Totally. I’m much smarter in a conversation. (Or at least, I seem much more lucid to myself.) I’m not sure that everyone is, I’m sure it has something to do with one’s personality/temperament and probably has some correlation to intraversion/extraversion.