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Teams Work Better When They're Tired

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Feeling a bit tired today? Well, you might be making the people around you more creative.

London South Bank University researchers wanted to find out how fatigue affects teams instead of taking another tired look (pun intended) at how it affects us as individuals. The main finding is sort of a wake-up call, too: Teams are more motivated to do well and to reach their best decisions when some team members are tired.

Why would this be? It's pretty simple, really. The more tired we are, the more likely we are to let somebody else's better solution rule the day. In the process, we create a real sense of teamwork and avoid something called the Einstellung effect, which is our very human individual tendency to go with the least-creative solution instead of coming up with new ways of doing things. And not surprisingly, we tend to feel less creative when we're tired and working solo.

Weariness can win the day as long as you're working on a well-oiled team with teammates who are willing to cut each other some slack as fatigue comes and goes. The researchers studied army cadets, who are known for their sense of camaraderie and ability to pull together. So the next time you say, "Crap, I can't deal with this right now, let's just go with your idea" know that you're actually taking one for the team by letting the best solutions bubble to the surface. Feel free to show this blog entry to your boss/co-worker/friend/spouse/parent if you're feeling sort of Einstellung-ish today. You're welcome.

You'll find the study in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.


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