Just look up one of the first studies to show this. Conducted in 1963, Marvin Dunnette, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota conducted an experiment that had unambiguous results demonstrating that when people work on their own they produce more ideas with higher quality then they had in a group setting.
Since his experiment 40 years of research has shown the same results. Studies show that as group size increases performance gets worse.
Three explanations exist for the failure of group brainstorming:
- Social Loafing: In groups some people tend to sit back and let others do the work.
- Production Blocking: Only one person can produce ideas, theories and provided advice with 100% attention from the other participants.
- Evaluation Apprehension: This is when people fear they will look or sound stupid in front of others.
My life has always involved sports. Competitive golf, soccer, boxing and Taekwon-Do. I have witnessed this failure of group think in group training as well.
In team sports social loafing is very common. There are people who don’t carry their weight on a team because they think the star players, rookies and work horses will do the heavy lifting and all they have to do is show up for the win.
Production blocking is an issue in all sports, especially when discussing strategy. Only one person has input at any given time about how a team should approach a game, how a fighter should prepare for a bout or a golfer should play a course. There are so many strategic elements that exist for sport and some that are very specific to each that it would be nearly impossible for one person to consider all of them. This is why sports like Football have divided the coaching responsibilities between two coaches. One for offense and another for defense… but is this enough? Does that approach work for all or other sports?
Evaluation apprehension is a critical factor in martial arts in general. In my experience in Taekwon-Do rank and a sense of respect for higher degrees is a very healthy and needed element but in my opinion it greatly hinders personal athletic development at times.
There is an artistic part of Taekwon-Do which we call “Tul” (patterns). They are series of self-defense movements performed against an imaginary opponent. They involve hundreds of different techniques, countless precise measurements, breath control, power, speed and a number of other complicated factors. Only the truly dedicated make them look good.
In trying improve my skills in this area of Taekwon-Do I find being evaluated the most nerve wrecking aspect. This is really no ones fault. It is a natural reaction for people who are learning and the more experienced evaluator has the natural reaction to judge and offer advice. That is their job.
The Art Of Adaptation: Practice in solitude more than you practice in a group setting.
There are many studies that show that quality solo practice time is the best indicator of success in expert performance in multiple fields like music, sports, chess and more.