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Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration Paperback – June 4, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (June 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201339897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201339895
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For years, Warren Bennis has written about leadership in works such as Learning to Lead, Beyond Leadership, and the bestselling On Becoming a Leader. His aim in these well-received titles was to catalog the traits and styles of leadership that help individuals excel in their work. In his new book (and already another bestseller) Organizing Genius, Bennis declares the age of the empowered individual ended: what matters now is "collaborative advantage" and the assembling of powerful teams. Drawing from six case studies that include Xerox's PARC labs, the 1992 Clinton campaign, and Disney animation studios, Bennis and coauthor Patricia Biederman distill the characteristics of successful collaboration, showing how talent can be pooled and managed for greater results than any individual is capable of producing. Organized in easily digested chapters and written in clear, concise prose, Organizing Genius will be useful to folks finding their way in new organizational structures. The lessons Bennis and Biederman offer in the final chapter of the book don't constitute the obvious advice most business books convey; these are real experiences gleaned from the stories of collaboration they surveyed. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

University of Southern California business professor Bennis and Los Angeles Times reporter Biederman examine six "Great Groups" whose work affected and sometimes changed the modern world. They are the Disney organization and its animated films; the Xerox Corporation's Palo Alto Research Center, which designed the first user-friendly computer; the Clinton presidential campaign of 1992 for what the authors deem a remarkable victory; Lockheed's Skunk Works, where the U-2 spy plane and the Stealth bomber were developed; Black Mountain College in the foothills of North Carolina, which lasted only from 1933 to 1956 but attracted many major artists; and the Manhattan Project, whose scientists created the atomic bomb. All of these groups, the authors stress, consisted of enormously talented people with a sense of mission, who worked under a strong leader and were imbued with pragmatic optimism. Each segment is so well told that it has lessons for all.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Warren Bennis (Los Angeles, CA), born in 1925, is an American scholar, organizational consultant and author, who is widely regarded as the pioneer of the contemporary field of leadership. He is University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California. In the past decade, he served as chairman of the Advisory Board of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, working with David Gergen.
Bennis has consulted for many Fortune 500 companies and served as adviser to four U.S. presidents. He has served on the faculty of MIT's Sloan School of Management and was Chairman of the Organizational Studies Department. He is a former faculty member of Boston University, former Provost and Executive Vice President of State University of New York at Buffalo and President of the University of Cincinnati. His global experience includes teaching at the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta, INSEAD, the London Business School, and IMEDE (now IMD). In 2007, Business Week called him one of ten business school professors who have had the greatest influence on business thinking. He has received 20 honorary degrees and has served on numerous boards of advisors.
Bennis has written or edited 30 books, which have been translated into 21 languages, and many articles on three of his passions-leadership, organizational change, and creative collaboration. The Financial Times recently named Leaders as one of the top 50 business books of all time.
Bennis is proud of the four years he served in the U.S. Army, 1943-1947. At the age of 19 he was one of the youngest infantry commanders in Germany and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. His dream remains: to write a terrific one-act play.

Customer Reviews

The authors conclude with lessons you can apply to bring the dedication of Great Groups to bear within your organization.
Rolf Dobelli
In Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration, he and Patricia Ward Biederman examine a number of what the authors call "Great Groups."
Robert Morris
Even though I found that messages contained in this book are extremely valuable, I don't think authors found the best way to present them.
Alexis Smirnov

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Roger Peter Marec on June 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an informative book on leadership qualities and insights by Warren Bennis, who is a distinguished professor of business administration at USC, and who has also advised at least four presidents. Bennis discusses four organizations that were able to combine incredibly gifted people in such a synergy as to create hitherto unknown super-accomplishments: Walt Disney Studios with the first full-length animated film, Xerox and Apple with the first user friendly computer, Lockheed's Skunkworks with the first US jet fighter, and the Manhattan Project which yeilded the atomic bomb. What were the key ingredients to their success? What did they do wrong, but succeeded in spite of such matters? These questions are entertainingly answered in this book.

Among the fifteeen traits listed are: always having an enemy, seeing themselves as the underdogs, isolating themselves from unnecessary outside interferences, and hiring people that have both great ability and a talent for collaboration.

Interesting and Useful - Five Stars
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on February 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
It never ceases to astonish me how little substance there is to most business books: they tend to take a few ideas, puff them up with facts and stories, and then paste them together into a book when a single article - or indeed the flap of the book - would more than suffice. Alas, though Bennis is a brilliant man and great expert on leadership, his book fails on many counts.
First, throughtout the text, the ideas are not that well delineated. So you get lots of stories that are often intersting and fun, but you wonder why all the details are included. Second, I didn't see what the book really adds: sure leaders can be both remarkable and difficult; sure, some teams are extraordinary; sure, we could use more great teams. But how do you do it? THe book doesn't provide much on that as a practical guide (its third failing).
Nonetheless, I thought this book was very well written, which is almost certainly Bierderman's contribution. ALso, it is fun to read the stories on their own. Finally, the sumup chapter has useful ideas (and frankly, it - just 15 pages - is all that you would need to read if you don't find the stories inherently interesting).
Tepidly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
The book falls short of delivering the promise of "The Secrets of Creative Collaboration". There are a number of current examples of groups which have achieved varying levels of greatness either within their areas of expertise or impacting the region or country they support, including within the military which the authors discounted. The book is poorly connected, disjointed to this reader. To include the clinton campaign and Carville at the expense of better examples only enforced the perception throughout most of the book that to lead a great group, one must (usually) be an insensitive bully, willing to inflict whatever degrading words or actions which spring to mind to move the group forward. There are far too many other books available to the novice as well as experienced manager which describe traits and actions of group leaders and group dynamics.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
This absorbing work explores the marriage between able leadership and the organization of gifted people that, combined, produces extraordinary results. The authors examine seven such groups including the Skunk Works, the Manhattan Project, Disney Feature Animation Unit, and President Clinton's 1992 campaign team. The book concludes with fifteen lessons of great groups. Extensive notes are provided.
The authors clearly reveal the complex SYNERGY between leadership and organization that creates high-performance teams, but one has to also consider the influence environmental circumstances-threats and opportunities. Abounds with excellent insights. Reviewed by Gerry Stern, founder, HR consultant.com InfoCenter and Stern & Associates.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael Reutter on April 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Like in many business books the authors present their message in a number of examples, each describing how a group managed to do something clearly outstanding. The problem of the book is that the authors do not manage to come up with anything like a coherent framework to explain the success of these groups. Examples are only useful if they show the working of some underlying general principle. In this book, however, examples simply stand for themselves. The stories are nicely written and it is fun to read, but it certainly does not present a theory of successful teams. But maybe, as an academic economist, I am too demanding in this respect.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
First of all, it seems unlikely to me that there are too many people left that don't recognize the importance of multidisciplinary teamwork in pursuing truly important, breakthrough work.
However, even though the notion is fairly widespread it would STILL be useful to have a guide to implementing such a strategy in one's own organization. Unfortunately, Bennis and Biederman blew a good chance to do this and I was extremely disappointed by their book.
The book creates a very misleading approach to collaborative teams by concentrating exclusively on the sort of "work all night until you drop dead because nothing in the world means as much to you as this project" sort of mindset. Frankly, I don't want people like that anywhere near me. But having led and participated in many successful multidisciplinary design teams I can frankly attest that this kind of mindset is not only totally superfluous - it is also ultimately destructive.
Yes, you can have a life AND be on a successful collaborative team. You don't have to be an eccentric nut and/or a workaholic. Too bad the authors created such a misleading representation of what promises to be a very important approach to work in the next century.
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