Susan Cain, a former wall street lawyer shifted her career to match her original goal of being an author deliver a book this year on the power of introverts and delivers a challenging TED talk about how to work better with Introverts and changes we need to consider in education and workspaces that challenges the current push to highly collaborative working. This would include the move to “agile spaces” and the need to balance this with space for solitude. She states that “Solitude is a critical component of creativity.” These concepts are discussed in greater detail in her book which is titled: Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
This is a challenging conundrum. My experience would find that many in the technical fields tend more naturally toward introversion rather than extroversion. The current stream of thought around decision making is based on concepts of the wisdom of crowds and collaborative teams. “Way back” in 1995, Jim McCarthy captured a set of rules for managing teams and development that included the rule: Don’t Go Dark. IE don’t let developers go into a cave and wait for software to magically appear after you’ve shoved enough pizza under the door (here is a link to the latest version of The Dynamics of Software Development). I certainly don’t have “the answer” here and as an analyst have the perfect job that mixes working from a home office with occasional forays into public speaking but we need to find ways to balance and it this is especially important for organizations transitioning from a more isolated worker floor plan to open spaces. How do you help introverts feel comfortable in daily stand-ups, pair programming and other out of the comfort zone experiences so that you truly get the wisdom of the crowd, rather than the march of the lemmings.
And introverts, maybe you should take a look at “power posing” and the work of Amy Cuddy from Harvard School of Business. Steel yourselves before the daily battle and let your awesomeness through.