I've just completed my fourth academic quarter teaching a design-thinking course in a b.school and I'm finally able to articulate an irony that's been nagging me for quite a while. The irony is that introverted students tend to have a lot of ideas, which go unarticulated, while the extroverts’ one or two ideas get indulged. In team settings, most design students are introverted, capable of generating dozens of ideas in a short amount of time, whereas business students tend to be extroverted and generate significantly fewer ideas than the design students. In team settings the leaders that emerge are likely to be extroverts; thus, it’s the one or two ideas of the business students that get pursued. This is precisely what often happens in my classes when the students are put into teams: the extroverts push their one or two ideas forward and the many ideas of the introverts get ignored.
Generating ideas is like taking pictures. A skilled photographer shoots hundreds of shots to increase his or her chances of capturing one stunning image. We idea generators should want to follow the same practice: the more ideas we have, the more likely it is that we'll find a remarkable one. And this ability that designers have to generate ideas fluently is not only useful at the front end of the project, but at every step of the way. Yet, their introversion prevents them from sharing their ideas, especially when their team is already excited about an earlier idea, which is likely the first idea the team had come up with.
So, what to do. The spring quarter starts in two weeks and I would like to help the designers find the courage to share their ideas, and to persist in articulating those ideas. And I would like to help the business students take advantage of their own leadership talents to empower introverted designers to articulate the reservoir of ideas they have to offer.