Jerkstore and Groupwork

I’ve been meaning to blog this for a few weeks. I was watching a Seinfeld re-run the other day:

“JERRY: George was scarfing shrimp at this meeting, and this guy says ‘Hey, George, the ocean called. They’re running outta shrimp.’

(Elaine laughs, loud and long, causing Jerry and Kramer to smile and laugh.)

GEORGE: Listen to the comeback. (pleased) ‘Oh yeah? Well the jerk store called. They’re running outta you.’

(George smiles and looks expectant. The other three just stare at him, with varying levels of confusion in their expressions.)

GEORGE: (worked up) Wha…You gotta be kidding me?!

ELAINE: How ’bout this one? How ’bout, ‘Your cranium called. It’s got some space to rent.’?

(Elaine laughs, and Jerry smiles.)

GEORGE: (confused) What does that mean?

JERRY: (taps George’s chest) Hey, here you go. ‘Hey, Reilly. The zoo called. You’re due back by six.’

GEORGE: (frustrated) No. No, no, no. You’re not helping me.

KRAMER: Look, just tell him you had sex with his wife. That’ll kill him.

GEORGE: (shouting) I’m not looking for another line. I got the line.

KRAMER: Look, George, just think about it. You know, you’re married, how would you feel if somebody says to you that they just had se…

GEORGE: (really animated) Alright, alright. You see? This is why I hate writing with a large group. Everybody has their own little opinions, and it all gets homogenised, and you lose the whole edge of it. I’m going with jerk store! Jerk store is the line! Jerk store! Yess!”

I’m going to use this somehow in my proposal. The reason the group effort didn’t work (besides the fact that George has other wacky personality issues) is that they weren’t working independently of one another, they were not cognitively diverse (the Seinfeld four always had the same thought patterns), and it wasn’t a decentralized conversation (George wanted to be the top of the hierarchical schema – it was top-bottom, not bottom-top).

While the Seinfeld example is funny and a bit opaque, this a perfect example of why certain groups don’t work and how building the right social networks can enhance the collective intelligence of the group.

As an aside, I truly miss Seinfeld.

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