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Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation

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Why can some organizations innovate time and again, while most cannot? You might think the key to innovation is attracting exceptional creative talent. Or making the right investments. Or breaking down organizational silos. All of these things may help—but there’s only one way to ensure sustained innovation: you need to lead it—and with a special kind of leadership. Col Why can some organizations innovate time and again, while most cannot? You might think the key to innovation is attracting exceptional creative talent. Or making the right investments. Or breaking down organizational silos. All of these things may help—but there’s only one way to ensure sustained innovation: you need to lead it—and with a special kind of leadership. Collective Genius shows you how. Preeminent leadership scholar Linda Hill, along with former Pixar tech wizard Greg Brandeau, MIT researcher Emily Truelove, and Being the Boss coauthor Kent Lineback, found among leaders a widely shared, and mistaken, assumption: that a “good” leader in all other respects would also be an effective leader of innovation. The truth is, leading innovation takes a distinctive kind of leadership, one that unleashes and harnesses the “collective genius” of the people in the organization. Using vivid stories of individual leaders at companies like Volkswagen, Google, eBay, and Pfizer, as well as nonprofits and international government agencies, the authors show how successful leaders of innovation don’t create a vision and try to make innovation happen themselves. Rather, they create and sustain a culture where innovation is allowed to happen again and again—an environment where people are both willing and able to do the hard work that innovative problem solving requires. Collective Genius will not only inspire you; it will give you the concrete, practical guidance you need to build innovation into the fabric of your business.


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Why can some organizations innovate time and again, while most cannot? You might think the key to innovation is attracting exceptional creative talent. Or making the right investments. Or breaking down organizational silos. All of these things may help—but there’s only one way to ensure sustained innovation: you need to lead it—and with a special kind of leadership. Col Why can some organizations innovate time and again, while most cannot? You might think the key to innovation is attracting exceptional creative talent. Or making the right investments. Or breaking down organizational silos. All of these things may help—but there’s only one way to ensure sustained innovation: you need to lead it—and with a special kind of leadership. Collective Genius shows you how. Preeminent leadership scholar Linda Hill, along with former Pixar tech wizard Greg Brandeau, MIT researcher Emily Truelove, and Being the Boss coauthor Kent Lineback, found among leaders a widely shared, and mistaken, assumption: that a “good” leader in all other respects would also be an effective leader of innovation. The truth is, leading innovation takes a distinctive kind of leadership, one that unleashes and harnesses the “collective genius” of the people in the organization. Using vivid stories of individual leaders at companies like Volkswagen, Google, eBay, and Pfizer, as well as nonprofits and international government agencies, the authors show how successful leaders of innovation don’t create a vision and try to make innovation happen themselves. Rather, they create and sustain a culture where innovation is allowed to happen again and again—an environment where people are both willing and able to do the hard work that innovative problem solving requires. Collective Genius will not only inspire you; it will give you the concrete, practical guidance you need to build innovation into the fabric of your business.

30 review for Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Great book! The author makes the argument that the future of innovation needs to be in the hands of a new kind of leadership. Leaders that can move people to find their own potential and then work together to encourage creativity and innovation. No longer is it leadership of just a solo genius, but leadership that can bring people together for a greater cause. The future is for leaders to be like Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King. The leaders of the future will need to move the mass Great book! The author makes the argument that the future of innovation needs to be in the hands of a new kind of leadership. Leaders that can move people to find their own potential and then work together to encourage creativity and innovation. No longer is it leadership of just a solo genius, but leadership that can bring people together for a greater cause. The future is for leaders to be like Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King. The leaders of the future will need to move the masses to change the world and to keep innovation on the forefront of the human imagination.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Munn

    This book sometimes feels like a cliche business book full of cherry-picked anecdotes to illustrate the authors' points, but nonetheless, its proposed framework is reasonably convincing. As is the case with many of these kinds of books, I gleaned a few insightful tidbits from random pages apart from the main points. A decent read. This book sometimes feels like a cliche business book full of cherry-picked anecdotes to illustrate the authors' points, but nonetheless, its proposed framework is reasonably convincing. As is the case with many of these kinds of books, I gleaned a few insightful tidbits from random pages apart from the main points. A decent read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Érica Briones

    Excelentes cases, sólido framework de liderança para inovação Decidi ler esse livro por causa de um artigo da HBR, um resumo da leitura. Vou dizer q fiquei decepcionada ao notar q o artigo resume muito bem o framework e em termos de visão consolidada da proposta funciona melhor, mas... para um entendimento mais profundo do q as pesquisadoras identificaram o livro é fantástico. Em especial destaco as leituras dos cases que são em muitos momentos cativantes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ignacio

    This is one of those books that could be a lot shorter but the authors tend to repeat a lot of concepts several times. Many of the cases that are used in the book are very interesting and if it wouldn’t be for that, I’d give it 3 stars. Good concepts that are helpful for leaders that need to drive their organizations forward.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Victor Panggabean

    Buku ini menceritakan mengenai hubungan antara kepemimpinan dengan inovasi, mirip dengan Creativity buku karangan Ed Catmull presiden dari Pixar. Beda-nya di buku ini Linda A Hill dan kawan-kawan meneliti di berbagai bidang bisnis bukan cuma industri film animasi, tp juga di industri otomotif, teknologi informasi, konsultan desain dll..

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tay Othman

    I'd skip a lot of cliche Chapters, and read the Chapters 7-11. I'd skip a lot of cliche Chapters, and read the Chapters 7-11.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Interesting collection of stories from successful leaders, but far too long. The book has some interesting insight but if you have already read about the innovation styles of Pixar, Google, and eBay you will find much of the same regurgitated information. If you are unfamiliar with those techniques, however, then by all means, read on my friend! Still, it's basic points are meaningful. Innovation is a creative collaboration; it should include a diverse collection of ideas, especially opposition. Interesting collection of stories from successful leaders, but far too long. The book has some interesting insight but if you have already read about the innovation styles of Pixar, Google, and eBay you will find much of the same regurgitated information. If you are unfamiliar with those techniques, however, then by all means, read on my friend! Still, it's basic points are meaningful. Innovation is a creative collaboration; it should include a diverse collection of ideas, especially opposition. Horizontal leadership structures vs top-down hierarchies create spaces of candor and innovation. These leaders were far more concerned about the culture they created rather than the vision they inspired.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scott Wozniak

    Solid summary of how to organize teams to innovate. The talk about creative abrasion (cultivating diverse ideas, not group think), creative agility (non-standard methods of working together, including changing the focus of the project), and create resolution (not settling for either/or solutions, but a third way that combines). The idea is to find the goldilocks zone in the middle, not to lean too far to control or freedom. The best part about the book is the case studies of how others did it. Th Solid summary of how to organize teams to innovate. The talk about creative abrasion (cultivating diverse ideas, not group think), creative agility (non-standard methods of working together, including changing the focus of the project), and create resolution (not settling for either/or solutions, but a third way that combines). The idea is to find the goldilocks zone in the middle, not to lean too far to control or freedom. The best part about the book is the case studies of how others did it. The theory isn't particularly original or profound. But the stories have a lot of useful nuggets. Warning: they are all for large, multi-national companies. So if you're not leading in one of those (Google, Volkswagon, etc.) then it won't directly apply.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Abdulaziz Al-naim

    This book introduces a profound methodology of how to transform a standard organization to highly innovative enterprise including managing the different paradoxes of highly innovative environment. The transformational examples in the book are well thought of to explain the process. The interactions between creative abrasion, creative agility and creative resolution is remarkable.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Asheesh Saksena

    Stunningly Underwhelming Lots of words - lots - to make relatively obvious points. And framing those as paradoxes doesn’t make banality insightful. As expecting something (a whole lot) better from such accomplished academics and practitioners.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jer

    I enjoyed this — need to go back through and read it again, but there were certainly elements I found apropos to working with the target audience (leaders and innovators).

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Richard

    Great book on innovation.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad alshawan

    great book it prescribes the way to lead in the new world

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Read for work but one of the most engaging management books I've read in a long time! Great storytelling. Read for work but one of the most engaging management books I've read in a long time! Great storytelling.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mai Mislang

    The wisdom offered by this book was helpful in fleshing out some business ideas I’ve been studying. A good read for those in the social entrepreneurship and tech space.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dale

    I use this book in my Leadership, Creativity and Innovation class and I think it is outstanding. Collective Genius is the best introduction that I know to the newer concept of "leadership without starting with a vision." In many leadership situations these days, leadership has to start well before the vision comes clear. This is a good contrast to the vision-focused works of writers such as Warren Bennis or Kouznes and Posner -- not that the vision leadership is wrong, just that there are other I use this book in my Leadership, Creativity and Innovation class and I think it is outstanding. Collective Genius is the best introduction that I know to the newer concept of "leadership without starting with a vision." In many leadership situations these days, leadership has to start well before the vision comes clear. This is a good contrast to the vision-focused works of writers such as Warren Bennis or Kouznes and Posner -- not that the vision leadership is wrong, just that there are other options and other situations. I have picked many quotes from this book for my own work, but I will add one here for an introduction: "We've described how innovative organizations need more than talented people. They also need leaders who can create and sustain a place--a context or environment--that unlocks the slice of genius in each of their people and then combines them into collective genius. And we described how leaders create that place by making sure their organizations are capable, in particular, of collaboration, discovery-driven learning, and integrative decision making." Love that line, particularly the image of a "slice of genius", which implies that we all have a part, but genius is something more than one person. I also like the trio of collaboration, discovery-driven learning, and integrative decision making. It is very hard to create that combination, and even harder to sustain it, but to me that is the goal of a group. Each of those three areas can be expanded, and this book should lead to even more reading in diverse books including works by Peter Senge, Herminia Ibarra, and Eric Ries.

  17. 4 out of 5

    mavromou

    Es un libro maravilloso, indispensable e imprescindible si se quiere tener una visión moderna de lo que debe ser un líder en una organización del siglo XXI. Mediante una serie de estudios sistemáticos durante 10 años en diversas organizaciones los autores muestran con ejemplos extraídos de la realidad el qué y el cómo hacen y piensan los lideres para generar condiciones que propician la creatividad y la innovación. It is a wonderful , indispensable and essential book if you want to have a modern Es un libro maravilloso, indispensable e imprescindible si se quiere tener una visión moderna de lo que debe ser un líder en una organización del siglo XXI. Mediante una serie de estudios sistemáticos durante 10 años en diversas organizaciones los autores muestran con ejemplos extraídos de la realidad el qué y el cómo hacen y piensan los lideres para generar condiciones que propician la creatividad y la innovación. It is a wonderful , indispensable and essential book if you want to have a modern vision of what should be a leader in an organization of the XXI century. Through a series of systematic studies for 10 years in various organizations the authors show with examples from reality what and how to do and think the leaders to create conditions to foster creativity and innovation.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Yahany

    La innovación está llena de paradojas, y para poder dirigirla hay que saber jugar con todas: hay que valorar a los individuos y a los grupos, hay que apoyar las ideas y confrontarlas, hay que experimentar, aprender y dar resultados al mismo tiempo, hay que permitir las improvisaciones y respetar la estructura, hay que ser pacientes y urgentes, hay que seguir iniciativas de todos los niveles de la organización. Todo al mismo tiempo y con una sonrisa en la cara. El libro es un excelente resumen de La innovación está llena de paradojas, y para poder dirigirla hay que saber jugar con todas: hay que valorar a los individuos y a los grupos, hay que apoyar las ideas y confrontarlas, hay que experimentar, aprender y dar resultados al mismo tiempo, hay que permitir las improvisaciones y respetar la estructura, hay que ser pacientes y urgentes, hay que seguir iniciativas de todos los niveles de la organización. Todo al mismo tiempo y con una sonrisa en la cara. El libro es un excelente resumen de mi aprendizaje (y frustraciones) de los últimos 7 años. Dato cultural: lo leí en menos de 12 horas.

  19. 5 out of 5

    University of Chicago Magazine

    Linda Hill, AM'79, PhD'82 Coauthor From our pages (Nov–Dec/14): How do some organizations innovate over and over again, while most can’t even start? The authors spent the past nine years exploring this question, talking with exceptional leaders of innovation across the globe, in industries ranging from filmmaking to e-commerce. Collective Genius distills their findings. The book provides a practical tool for leaders seeking to build and sustain a culture of innovation throughout their organization Linda Hill, AM'79, PhD'82 Coauthor From our pages (Nov–Dec/14): How do some organizations innovate over and over again, while most can’t even start? The authors spent the past nine years exploring this question, talking with exceptional leaders of innovation across the globe, in industries ranging from filmmaking to e-commerce. Collective Genius distills their findings. The book provides a practical tool for leaders seeking to build and sustain a culture of innovation throughout their organizations. Spoiler alert: It ain’t easy. But it is worth the effort.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Prasanna

    The book is a collection of essays from leaders who have successfully created an environment conducive to innovation. Hidden in these essays are solutions that have worked and solved the fundamental problems that inhibit innovation. I believe most executives will identify with the problems and challenges discussed in the book. Full review. . . The book is a collection of essays from leaders who have successfully created an environment conducive to innovation. Hidden in these essays are solutions that have worked and solved the fundamental problems that inhibit innovation. I believe most executives will identify with the problems and challenges discussed in the book. Full review. . .

  21. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    Good principles overall, but at times I felt the principles got lost in the lengthy case studies that were as much about celebrating the company being studies as focusing on the principles of innovation. Also, while they do make reference to factors like Google having a huge budget that many readers are likely to have, I felt like the case study could use a better boiling down than "but this would still work for you." Good principles overall, but at times I felt the principles got lost in the lengthy case studies that were as much about celebrating the company being studies as focusing on the principles of innovation. Also, while they do make reference to factors like Google having a huge budget that many readers are likely to have, I felt like the case study could use a better boiling down than "but this would still work for you."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Turmel

    Need more examples Like so many academic works, this book contained interesting examples of leaders and their well-known organizations. It also contained interesting themes such as " the six paradoxes." What was missing were the "how they made it happen." Just telling us how fabulous projects turned out without offering best practices and techniques we can emulate was ultimately unsatisfying. Need more examples Like so many academic works, this book contained interesting examples of leaders and their well-known organizations. It also contained interesting themes such as " the six paradoxes." What was missing were the "how they made it happen." Just telling us how fabulous projects turned out without offering best practices and techniques we can emulate was ultimately unsatisfying.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gwen

    The authors provide academic grounding (in their notes and bibliography) for stories that illustrate the paradox of developing innovative ecosystems that flourish because of leadership soft skills and social intelligence. I applaud their stated purpose and hope they encourage readers "to examine your own mind-set and practices." The authors provide academic grounding (in their notes and bibliography) for stories that illustrate the paradox of developing innovative ecosystems that flourish because of leadership soft skills and social intelligence. I applaud their stated purpose and hope they encourage readers "to examine your own mind-set and practices."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This is not a book I would have normally picked up; received it at a conference. Glad I read it. Focuses on leadership characteristics to foster innovation - and those characteristics being different from what is normally defined as "good leadership". A number of interesting stories. Also had the opportunity to hear one of the authors speak. Recommend. This is not a book I would have normally picked up; received it at a conference. Glad I read it. Focuses on leadership characteristics to foster innovation - and those characteristics being different from what is normally defined as "good leadership". A number of interesting stories. Also had the opportunity to hear one of the authors speak. Recommend.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dia Haykal

    An eye opener with great examples that destroy the idea of a one-man-show/leader-with-a-vision and introduce the idea of the true leader who gives his team the power and freedom to create and innovate; the collective genius. -- may we find these leaders, may we be them.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    658.4092 H6469 2014

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This had some interesting findings and the ideas and themes made sense, but the writing was SO REPETITIVE. It could easily have been 25-50% shorter. Oh well - still worth a look.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Simon VW

    Interesting perspective to create a constructive environment in which the leader plays the essential role in establishing the innovative culture. However, a bit long for what you get out of it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Cowie

    review to come in sept/oct issue of Global Business and Organizational Excellence.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Angelica

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