Do you think Michael Jordan or Steve Jobs is a genius? How about Dr. King or J.K. Rowlings?

Back in February MSNBC partnered with 92 Y to present 7 Days of Genius. This genius showdown ended during the first week of March. While this campaign was going on, users were able to vote for game changers of the modern day.  You can view the winner of the genius “Ultimate Genius Showdown” Final Four here.

During the start of March Madness, I remember watching a news anchor discussing, what it means to be a genius in the 21st century. The panelists ranged from doctors to MacArthur Fellows. Although I didn’t have the opportunity finish watching the full broadcast a key takeaway for me was that genius is not limited to one person, but genius comes from a collective of people.

This opinion was further reinforced when I came across a TED Talks by Linda Hill, Wallace Brett Donham professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and co-author of Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation. In the video Hill explained how employers can help employees tap into their creative genius. During her TED Talk Hill helped her audience comprehend how two companies known for their innovation: Pixar and Google manage to stay innovative.

Early in the video Hill mentioned that, “If we want to build organizations that can innovate time and time again, we must unlearn our conventional notions of leadership.” A few minutes into her discussion, Hill recalled how she had the opportunity to see the Pixar team come together to make some of most memorable films we enjoy today like Toy Story, Ratatouille, or Up.

She went on to say that innovation does not come from a single person efforts, but from the efforts of a collective. In the case of Pixar it takes, 200 plus people between four and five years to make a movie.

“Innovation is a journey. It’s a type of collaborative problem solving, usually among people who have different expertise and different points of view,” said Hill.

What separates innovative companies from their competition is their ability to do three things: creative abrasion, creative agility, and creative resolution. Hill defines these terms around the 6:11 mark of the video.

In order to build organizations that are capable of creating innovation over and over again we have to alter the way we perceive leadership.”Leading innovation is about creating the space, where people are willing and able to do the hard work of innovative problem solving.” said Hill.

In closing Hill reminded her audience that they can become leaders of innovation at their workplace, by re-thinking their roles as leaders. “Our task is to create the space where everybody’s slice of genius can be unleashed and harnessed, and turned into works of collective genius.”

What are your thoughts on harnessing creativity in the workplace? Do you believe genius comes from a collective effort or not?




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s