From Publishers Weekly
Forget about the myth of the solitary genius: collaborative effort generates ideas and inventions, says this useful, upbeat book about how innovation always emerges from a series of sparks—never a single flash of insight. Judiciously wielding exercises and dozens of examples, Sawyer (Explaining Creativity) helps the reader understand how people think and function in and out of groups. He looks at how J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis composed their epic novels in concert, how unorganized individuals can come together to provide disaster relief more efficiently than government planners, how Charles Darwin and Samuel Morse built their work on others' discoveries, how information sharing helped Silicon Valley beat out Boston's computer startups. (Sawyer's riffs on jazz ensembles and improv comedy as sites of ingenuity are less convincing.) Basing much of his work on that of mentor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi—who writes about reaching the state of heightened consciousness he calls flow—Sawyer offers guidelines for creating group flow. Insisting that collaborative webs are more important than creative people, he calls for an organizational culture that fosters equivocality, improvised innovation, and constant conversation—that's a recipe for group genius. Even if few readers are in a position to do away with their organizational chart, this is a solid recipe for unexpected innovation. (June)
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From the Back Cover
Group Genius is a must read for anyone who needs to build better teams, take their organization to new levels of performance, or make their city or region a more creative and exciting place. If you want to understand the creative process or want to make the most of your own creative capabilities, this is the book for you.
See all Editorial Reviews
Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class
I can't stop thinking and talking about Group Genius. It's filled with insightful nuggets--from improvisational theater to the advent of Monopoly to Impressionist painting to the invention of the mountain bike--about teams and the creative process. Whether shedding new light on brainstorming or exploring the subtleties of language, Sawyer made me see creativity in a whole new way.
Ori Brafman, author of The Starfish and the Spider
In this book about how it feels when groups perform well, Professor Sawyer gives us a fascinating account of human experience at its best.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow
Keith Sawyer has emerged as the world's leading scholar on innovative, collaborative creativity. Sawyer is that rare scholar who has also been there in the start- ups and the jazz joints and the improv meccas. He is a consummate story teller and a sure handed guide to the secrets of success in the ever changing global marketplace. Group Genius is essential reading for anyone who competes in that marketplace.
David Henry Feldman, Professor of Child Development, Tufts University
Group Genius is a lighthouse of a book. It sheds light on knowledge that has always been there but slightly in the dark. The arrival of crowdsourcing is further proof of the extreme validity of Keith Sawyer's thesis. Ideas no longer come from some guy in a garage, they come from the meeting of 6 billion minds.
Alasdhair Macgregor-Hastie, Executive Creative Director at Publicis
So you think that every creative breakthrough is the brainchild of a single lone genius? Think again. Using both scientific research and specific examples, Keith Sawyer makes the strongest possible case for the creativity of collaborative groups.
Dr. Dean Keith Simonton, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.