Venn diagrams

The following Venn diagram seems simple enough. Two sets intersect to create a set that is smaller and more restricted:


Yet when it comes to people, this logic is often completely wrong. The place where Lennon and McCartney worked creatively together was far larger than the creative space each would ever claim on their own. The same goes for Gilbert and Sullivan, Abbot and Costello, Ashman and Mencken, Siegel and Schuster, Greenwich and Barry, Dannay and Lee, Rodgers and Hammerstein and many others.

And so we have what seems like a contradiction: When it comes to human creativity, the set of intersecting talent can be far larger than the set of talents possessed by either participant.

6 Responses to “Venn diagrams”

  1. sally says:

    In this case, the only way this would work is if the A and B were flat and the
    A (upside down U, whatever it’s called) B were extended dimensionally.

  2. admin says:

    ‘∩’ is the symbol for set intersection. So A∩B is said aloud as “A intersect B”.

    I think you’re saying that what looks like a set intersection is only an illusion. It just looks like that because our perspective is hiding some of the dimensions. Is that right?

  3. sharon says:

    I don’t know why there’s any a priori reason to suppose that set intersection is the right model for collaboration. My theory: when two people work together well, each unlocks creativity that the other already possessed but wasn’t accessing. I don’t know if that common saying about how we only use 10% of our brains or whatever is valid, but it feels like the best collaborations give us access to a greater percentage. Maybe its more like a multiplicative effective than additive or subtractive (which intersection suggests).

  4. admin says:

    Actually your answer fits very well with Sally’s answer: The part of two minds that intersects will multiply together, which induces a new dimension that wasn’t present in either mind.

    Maybe it’s an intersection region where things should be measured in units of mind2.


  5. Kaelan DM says:

    Seems to me that a good image to describe collaboration is waves. If they come together at the right time and in the right way, the amplitude of the wave multiplies and the collaborators can do things neither one could do on their own. But if they come together at the wrong time and in the wrong way, they cancel each other out or create wave-muck.

  6. Rubem Medeiros says:

    When it come to complex systems like minds, sinergy happens all around: the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts!!

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