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Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation Hardcover – June 10, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Recommended Reading: 10 Books on Creative Leadership” — Forbes

“This immensely worthwhile read redefines leadership, encouraging would-be leaders of innovation to shuck the “Follow me! I know the way” approach and opt for an inverted organizational pyramid.” — Success magazine

“Throughout this concise book, the emphasis is on practical examples and detailed studies of what is required to make each aspect of innovation work. This thoroughness extends to the authors’ prescriptions for the future.” — Forbes

ADVANCE PRAISE for Collective Genius:

Tim Brown, President and CEO, IDEO—
“The leadership of innovative teams and organizations is perhaps the most confounding mystery in business today . . . Collective Genius reveals the principles by which we can unlock the collective potential of our colleagues and release the creative potential of our organizations.”

Reid Hoffman, cofounder and Chairman, LinkedIn; coauthor, The Alliance
“An interesting and instructive look at how leaders can create flexible corporate ecosystems to unleash individual talent in ways that lead to greater organizational innovation.”

Kenneth I. Chenault, CEO and Chairman, American Express—
Collective Genius offers real-world insights that will help today’s business leaders challenge the status quo, drive new ideas, and create an environment where change and innovation are the norm.”

Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos; New York Times bestselling author, Delivering Happiness
“Linda Hill and her coauthors argue that innovation requires a different kind of leader—someone who can create and sustain a culture that brings out the ‘collective genius’ of all their diverse and talented people. A great read for anyone leading a team, organization, or community.”

Terri Kelly, President and CEO, W. L. Gore & Associates—
“ . . . Collective Genius is one of the few books that truly captures innovation in action and the important role—and qualities—of leaders who make it happen.”

Mark M. Little, Senior Vice President, Director of Global Research, and Chief Technology Officer, General Electric—
“A great read, full of important insights for anyone involved in high-impact innovation . . . I look forward to sharing it with my colleagues.”

Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab—
“. . . A must-read for any manager or participant in an organization that requires innovation—in other words, any organization that wants to be successful in the new world of continuous massive disruptions.”

Clayton M. Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School; author, The Innovator’s Dilemma
“Innovation. Leadership. Motivation. Execution. What we need to do is quite obvious. And thanks to this book, we now have a guide to teach us how.”

About the Author

Linda A. Hill is the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and faculty chair of the Leadership Initiative. She is the author of Becoming a Manager and coauthor, with Kent Lineback, of Being the Boss. She was named by Thinkers50 as one of the top ten management thinkers in the world.

Greg Brandeau, long-time head of technology at Pixar Animation Studios, is a former EVP and CTO for The Walt Disney Studios.

Emily Truelove is a researcher and PhD candidate at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Kent Lineback has spent more than twenty-five years as a manager and executive and, before that, several years as a consultant and a creator of management development programs. He has collaborated on several books, including Being the Boss.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (June 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422130029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422130025
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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4 star
18%
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See all 17 customer reviews
The cases facilitate telling the story and illustrating the ideas.
Mark P. McDonald
I'd recommend this book to top executives, HR leaders and line managers interested in stimulating an environment of breakthrough thinking in their companies.
Douglas A. Ready
Great leaders figure out how to find that genius and get it to play well with others.
Steve Gladis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ted Anderson on June 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read many books on innovation, including the 1986 Peter Drucker classic. Collective Genius promised something new that has not been addressed in the numerous previous titles on innovation. Unfortunately, that promise went unfulfilled. Here is the basic message of the book: Leading innovation is different than traditional leadership. Rather than casting a vision and inspiring everyone to follow, the leader of innovation must create the proper environment for smart &creative people to excel.

That's basically it. The bulk of the book is filled with overly long and boring case studies that do not sound particularly innovative. For example, the authors devote an entire chapter to a marketing campaign for Volkswagen. Wow, that's really cutting edge stuff!

If you want to learn about leadership in an innovative and creative organization, I highly recommend Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull, the President and co-founder of Pixar. The authors of Collective Genius cite Pixar as one of their examples, and they quote passages from the Catmull book. Ironically, these quotes were the best part of Collective Genius.

My recommendation: Don't waste your time on Collective Genius. Rather, read the Catmull book and learn from someone who has actually led a highly successful and innovative organization.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on June 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Being innovative and established are often assumed to be mutually exclusive. According to conventional wisdom big companies cannot create new ideas and generate new businesses as readily as their small start-ups. This leads to books written about how big companies can act small. While that generates a lot of jargon, it results in little actionable insight.

That is where this book comes in. Hill, Brandeau, Truelove and Lineback have created a book that clearly illustrates how large organizations can be more innovative in ways that work with their size and scale rather than against it. This subject alone makes this an important book, their treatment of the subject differentiates this book and makes it an important management resource for every organization.

The authors identify three critical aspects required for innovation: Collaboration, discovery-driven learning and integrative decision making. These aspects sound conventional and they are, but the authors build on these ideas to bring out the nuance and necessity of thinking differently about innovation. These differences and the contradiction they have with legacy business cultures bring out what it takes to lead innovation. They include:

Collaboration requires 'creative abrasion' looks at the tension inherent with innovation. The authors discuss this process where potential solutions are created, explored and modified through debate and discourse. Corporate culture, norms and behaviors are fundamentally non-confontational and often passive aggressive which needs to change by leading through accepting the creative abrasion associated with new ideas. This is the focus of Chapter 6 of the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Douglas A. Ready on July 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Collective Genius is the culmination of many years of research by this terrific team. It offers both big ideas and practical applications, helping readers to not only learn about innovation, but also to see the leader's role in creating the context that will stimulate additional opportunities to innovate in many different ways in organizations. The book provides a road map that helps distribute leadership and innovation capability across the enterprise, challenging us to unleash the potential of thousands of people who are ready, willing and able to think and behave differently in today's and tomorrow's companies. This is what the "willingness and ability" sections are all about. Moreover, it gets at the heart of what leaders of innovation actually do. The "creative abrasion, agility, and resolution" concepts are very powerful in this regard. I'd recommend this book to top executives, HR leaders and line managers interested in stimulating an environment of breakthrough thinking in their companies.

Doug Ready, senior lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management, and founder, ICEDR.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a bold and clearly written book that both combines and endeavors to answer two major questions related to "leadership" and "innovation": 1) what is the role of a leader to foster innovation?; 2) when innovation flourishes, what specifically has a leader contributed that has somehow made a difference? The inquiry is pursued through well-described and interesting case examples, and the authors summarize their findings with an easy to understand and carefully illustrated framework, essentially based on creating the right organizational context of "will" and "skill" to pursue innovation in a collective fashion. The research offers good insights to fostering the right kind of culture and values, and adds to the growing body of practice analysis on all-important questions of collaboration, and value of purpose-driven inspiration. The authors rightly focus not on "flashes of genius" but rather the more complex and iterative process by which initial insights or ideas are developed by many people over time into successful innovations. Linda Hill et al are also to be commended for adding some provocative examples of "next generation" innovation organizations, mostly what might be described as "network style" enterprises, clusters, and the like; these provide some confidence that the framework they offer will continue to have some enduring application into the future.

The style of the book is clear and straightforward, if sometimes a bit "workman-like" in places. A more serious objection to the book is the relatively thin treatment given to differentiating the concept of "innovation" from other (admittedly related) concepts of performance. The authors explain innovation as "something both novel and useful....
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Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation
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