Peter Lindberg links to a very interesting piece on the power of groups to promote creativity and innovation. Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, in a review of books about comedy, Saturday Night Live and the Sociology of Philosophy makes the following point:
One of the peculiar features of group dynamics is that clusters of people will come to decisions that are far more extreme than any individual member would have come to on his own. People compete with each other and egg each other on, showboat and grandstand; and along the way they often lose sight of what they truly believed when the meeting began. Typically, this is considered a bad thing, because it means that groups formed explicitly to find middle ground often end up someplace far away. But at times this quality turns out to be tremendously productive, because, after all, losing sight of what you truly believed when the meeting began is one way of defining innovation.