Sunday, November 1, 2020

g-f(1)7 Innovation is not about solo genius. It is about collective genius.

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Innovation is a journey. It is a type of collaborative problem solving, usually among people who have different expertise and different points of view. Innovations rarely get created full blown. As many of you know, they are usually the result of trial and error. Lots of false starts, missteps, and mistakes. Our task is to create the space where everybody's slices of genius can be unleashed and harnessed and turned into works of collective genius.

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  1. An innovation is anything that is both new and useful. It can be a product or service. It can be a process or a way of organizing. It can be incremental, or it can be breakthrough. We have an inclusive definition.
  2. When many of us think about innovation though, we think about an Einstein having an 'Aha!' moment. But we all know that is a myth. Innovation is not about solo genius. It is about collective genius.
  3. Let us think for a minute about what it takes to make a Pixar movie: no solo genius, no flash of inspiration produces one of those movies. On the contrary, it takes about 250 people four to five years, to make one of those movies. What we know is at the heart of innovation is a paradox. You must unleash the talents and passions of many people and you have to harness them into a work that is actually useful.
  4. Innovative organizations are communities that have three capabilities: creative abrasion, creative agility, and creative resolution.
  5. Creative abrasion is about being able to create a marketplace of ideas through debate and discourse. In innovative organizations, they amplify differences, they do not minimize them. Creative abrasion is not about brainstorming where people suspend their judgment. No, they know how to have very heated but constructive arguments to create a portfolio of alternatives.
    • Individuals in innovative organizations learn how to inquire, they learn how to actively listen but - guess what? They also learn how to advocate for their point of view. They understand that innovation rarely happens unless you have both diversity and conflict.
  6. Creative agility is about being able to test and refine that portfolio of ideas through quick pursuit, reflection, and adjustment. It is about discovery driven learning where you act as opposed to plan your way to the future. It is about design thinking where you have that interesting combination of the scientific method and the artistic process. It is about running a series of experiments, and not a series of pilots. Experiments are usually about learning. When you get a negative outcome, you are still learning something that you need to know. Pilots are often about being right. When they do not work, someone or something is to blame.
  7. The final capability is creative resolution. This is about doing decision making in a way that you can combine even opposable ideas to reconfigure them in new combinations to produce a solution that is new and useful. When you look at innovative organizations, they never go along to get along. They do not compromise. They do not let one group, or one individual dominate, even if it is the boss, even if it is the expert. Instead, they have developed a rather patient and more inclusive decision-making process that allows for both end solutions to arise and not simply either/or solutions.
  8. Why is it that Pixar and Google are able to innovate time and again? It is because they have mastered the capabilities required for that. They know how to do collaborative problem solving, they know how to do discovery driven learning, and they know how to do integrated decision making.
  9. Leadership is the secret sauce. But it is a different kind of leadership, not the kind many of us think about when we think about great leadership. One of the leaders I met with early on, said to me, "Linda, I don't read books on leadership. All they do is make me feel bad. In the first chapter they say I am supposed to create a vision. But if I am trying to do something that is truly new, I have no answers. I don't know what direction we're going in and I'm not even sure I know how to figure out how to get there." For sure, there are times when visionary leadership is exactly what is needed. But if we want to build organizations that can innovate time and again, we must recast our understanding of what leadership is about.
  10. Leading innovation is about creating the space where people are willing and able to do the hard work of innovative problem solving. Our task is to create the space where everybody's slices of genius can be unleashed and harnessed and turned into works of collective genius.
    • At this point, some of you may be wondering, what does that leadership really look like? At Pixar, they understand that innovation takes a village. The leaders focus on building a sense of community and building those three capabilities.
    • How do they define leadership? They say leadership is about creating a world to which people want to belong.
    • What kind of world do people want to belong in at Pixar? A world where you are living at the frontier.
    • What do they focus their time on? Not on creating a vision. Instead they spend their time thinking about, how do we design a studio that has a sensibility of a public square so that people will interact?
    • Let us put in a policy that anyone, no matter what their level or role, is allowed to give notes to the director about how they feel about a particular film.
    • You know what, what can we do to make sure that all the disruptors, all the minority voices in this organization speak up and are heard? And, finally, let us bestow credit in a very generous way.

Category 1: A new, better world for everyone

[genioux fact extracted from TEDxCambridge]

Authors of the genioux fact

Fernando Machuca


How to manage for collective creativity | Linda Hill | TEDxCambridge, TEDx Talks YouTube channel, Oct 28, 2014. 

Linda A. Hill is the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and chair of the Leadership Initiative. Hill is regarded as one of the top experts on leadership and innovation. Hill is the co-author of Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation (Harvard Business Review Press 2014), co-founder of Paradox Strategies, and co-creator of the Innovation Quotient and re:Route. She was named by Thinkers50 as one of the top ten management thinkers in the world in 2013 and received the Thinkers50 Innovation Award in 2015.

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