Some companies feel that it's a waste of time to have, for example, one designer or artist at the drawing board (or computer) with another designer/artist sitting next to them providing creative ideas as development of a mock-up progresses. Maybe the two individuals occasionally switch roles (similar to pair programming); the point is that they are collaborating beyond just the vocal "brainstorming" process.

Is this a waste of time? When might it be appropriate?

  • Related buzzword to research: "team programming"
    – keshlam
    Mar 18 '16 at 23:53

If you have one designer and he/she is quite good at what he/she does, I don't think you should have a second one at all, if they're working at different projects then it's okay, but if those two are working on the exact same thing that's a big no-no if you're a business owner.

There are moments where having two or more designers brainstorming and working on the same project is necessary but you need to do some simple math productivity = work/employees, if those two designers are producing the same or more than two designers working on different projects then it's feasible, so productivity = work/employees => 1 = 2/2 or 1.5 = 3/2 but never two producing the same as one 0.5 = 1/2 not worth it $.

Of course, this is just my two cents.

  • 4
    A gestalt merge of talents can be an amazing thing to watch. It is not an incremental increase but a exponential increase in value. Mar 18 '16 at 18:11
  • @RichardU you're totally right +1, but this is subjective, since I don't know anything about the SO I tried to be more mechanical about it, this is one of those things that really depends on the situation
    – Kyle
    Mar 18 '16 at 18:14
  • I tend to agree depending on the pair, if one is sitting on their hands most of the time, then it's money being wasted. It's not rocket science, I would only fork out the money if it's necessary.
    – Kilisi
    Mar 18 '16 at 21:40

As with any kind of creative work, this depends on many factors: how well the individuals collaborate, how much their insights differ or overlap, how complex the problem is, how important the problem is, what the budget allows, what the schedule allows, how much additional time/work goes into coordination and communication (read The Mythical Man Month)...

I'm not sure anything really useful beyond that can be said briefly enough to be suitable for SE.


If they're more productive and you can afford it, why not? That pretty much goes for anything in business. Trying put put a time-clock and billable hours on creativity is a waste. I would never pay an author of a book based on how many pages they write.

There are plenty of creative pairs/teams that make more than they both can individually. Movies, books, music, scripts are often created by more than one person. You may find your creative team puts in more productive hours because they enjoy working together. Xtreme programming advocates pair-programming. The quality of their initial work goes up, fixing bugs later costs more, negative effects of turnover are limited, communication is increased.

Not all creative people play well with others. If true creativity is what you need, try to avoid everything that gets in the way. That's always possible. No reason you can't try it and measure your results. Please share your results.

  • 1
    That's true, if two means more creativity and then higher productivity, I don't see why not +1
    – Kyle
    Mar 18 '16 at 18:07
  • Sometimes it's the conflict that increased productivity. The band Blondie would get into such rows that people would rush in to see if everyone was alright, at which point the band would shoo them out because they were having breakthroughs. Mar 18 '16 at 18:20
  • @RichardU - I guess that's eustress.
    – user8365
    Mar 18 '16 at 20:45
  • 1
    It also makes them a check against each other's biases Mar 18 '16 at 20:48
  • @RichardU - good point. It's easy to get into a rut or just go with the first idea you come up with.
    – user8365
    Mar 24 '16 at 17:34

Its most appropriate if one person is stuck. Sometimes talking it out will break the roadblock.

It is also appropriate if the two people work well together and can both afford the time spent. My boss and I once locked ourselves in an office and produced a well received policy manual (that none of the higher ups who reviewed it changed a single word on) of several hundred pages in less than a week. The people who didn't collaborate had spent six months writing the version we completely threw out and rewrote.

Some creative workers work better alone and some work better when they have someone to bounce ideas off of, a company should try to allow them the freedom to do whatever is going to work best for them.

However, depending on how billing of the customers is done, it may not always be possible to add a second person to the project. A project tight in hours may not have the flexibility of a larger project.

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