What kind of leadership inspires collective genius? Premium

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Some companies are able to innovate continuously while others are not. To understand why this is, Business Digest explores the key insights of Collective Genius, a book based on extensive study of the world’s most innovative organizations.

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Innovation requires a new kind of leadership
Few organizations have yet to understand how the demands of innovation transform the role of leaders. Rather than setting a vision and motivating others to follow it, leaders of innovation recognize that innovation is a “team sport.”

Creating the ability to innovate
To create the ability to innovate, leaders must support the sharing and debate of ideas and encourage learning and development while simultaneously demanding performance.

Creating the willingness to innovate
“Innovation is voluntary,” explain the coauthors of Collective Genius. “No one can be compelled to make a contribution or to care about a problem. Unless people freely open their minds and hearts, they’re unlikely to offer their best ideas or endure the sense of vulnerability and anxiety that innovating creates.”

Collective genius at Pixar and Chromatik
Greg Brandeau, one of the co-authors of Collective Genius, explains his approach to increasing the innovation capacity of his teams, first at Pixar and now at Chromatik. His advice is to give team members your full support, build a strong sense of community, and encourage honest, direct communication.


Based on Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation by Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback (Harvard Business Review Press, June 2014), and the interview with Greg Brandeau, former senior vice president of technology at Pixar Animation Studios, current COO, Chromatik.

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The impact of human capital on innovation


In the 2014 edition of their list of the world’s most innovative companies, researchers from INSEAD emphasize the importance of human capital for innovation.