Your Collective Creativity Chronicle

October 11, 2017

Collective Genius — Leading innovation in your organization

in collective genius, organization, innovation

The emergence and use of innovative methods are accelerating and diversifying, such as design thinking, open innovation and gamification. Relying on traditional methods like R&D project groups or solo geniuses are risky—they’re not efficient nor fast enough to outpace the competition.

While traditional methods may be tough to maintain, Collective Creativity opens new doors. Utilize the strength of the collective genius to help you start leading innovation in your organization.

Let's first address "The Myth of the Lone Genius." 

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The lone genius has usually been celebrated as the source of innovation. But as Greg Satell put it, no one person “ever has all the pieces of the puzzle.” Even with famed innovation heroes like Edison or Jobs, the reality is that they were both leaders who often orchestrated and synthesized the work of other geniuses.

Because of the current connected and information-rich world, we can unleash the collective genius like never before.

Truly innovative groups consistently source and integrate participants’ will to change, and provide insight and expertise into the unified output of the collective genius. Open innovation is spreading and the collaboration between organizations are playing a central role.

Technology allows this collaboration to happen on an unprecedented scale and reach; this is the first time in history when large, distributed organizations practice simultaneous innovation across tens of thousands of people. 


Add conscious organizational design to this technology boost.

Have a game plan to consolidate the contributions of a large and diverse crowd composed of people who play different roles over time with different expectations. Also, no matter how brilliant your members may be, do not let innovation stop at your doorstep. The bigger and more varied your ecosystem is, the better.

Open innovation is now a worldwide phenomenon and scored tremendous business successes by convening outside sources. Procter & Gamble became a pioneer by increasing productivity, lowering costs and doubling their innovation success. Cisco and other companies are using “speed innovation” to bring like-minded organizations together.

Consider these collective genius actions:

  • Diversify. Bring together people who have different skills, work styles and experiences in workshops, project teams and team building programs.
  • Be a social architect. The conflict of ideas and opinions is productive for innovation; set up the culture in a way that it is considered beneficial by all participants. E.g. Autodesk regularly holds an Idea Cage Match where employees dress up as fighters and allow their opinions and suggestions to clash.
  • This became one of our best practices after working with Vodafone. Create an open innovation challenge that asks university students (or any target audience) to imagine your industry five years from now. Let them share ideas, then nurture the best ones as prototypes at a closing hackathon or special event. Inspire groups to test and integrate newfound patterns into novel concepts. As a leader, ensure the resources for implementation and be comfortable experimenting with the winning ideas. 


 These recommended actions came from the free ebook: the Collective Creativity Playbook

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