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Collective genius – revealing the way successful leaders drive innovation


At a time when talent and innovation are highly valued, a large majority of organizations fail to develop new and attractive products and services. So what can CEOs and managers do in order to drive innovation across their organization?

Linda A. Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, sheds new light on the subject, suggesting that leading innovation is not about creating a vision and inspiring others to execute it.

Studying some of the world’s most creative companies, located in seven countries across the globe, working in 12 different industries, Linda found that innovative organizations put great emphasis on three capabilities:

  1. Creative abrasion – implies creating a portfolio of alternatives through debates, where employees are encouraged to come up with different ideas. It is different from brainstorming in that individuals advocate their point of view, agreeing on the fact both diversity and conflict can generate innovation;
  2. Creative agility – refers to the process of testing and refining the portfolio of ideas through quick pursuit, reflection, and adjustment. At this stage employees run a series of experiments in order to analyze and learn how to implement their ideas.
  3. Creative resolution – it is about decision-making while accepting new combinations of ideas and reconfigure solutions in order to bring on the table revolutionary and useful concepts.

The success behind these principles lies in the effort and collaboration of people who have different expertise and different points of view, and not in the vision of a single individual. According to Linda, innovation is not about solo genius, it’s about collective genius.

Linda stresses the fact that leadership plays an important role in driving innovation. However, she points out that companies must embrace a different kind of leadership, which involves creating a space where people are willing and able to share and combine their talents and passions.

Watch this inspiring TED Talk, and learn about insightful tactics that nurture creativity and innovation.

Video source:

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