Organizing Genius | Warren Bennis

Summary of: Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration
By: Warren Bennis


Get ready to dive into the world of ‘Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration,’ a book that explores the powerful role of Great Groups in the creation of breakthrough ideas and projects. As you read this summary, you will discover the shared characteristics of Great Groups like the Walt Disney Studio, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, Apple Computers, and the Manhattan Project. Witness the significance of a charismatic leader, the benefits of working in teams, the critical role of vision, and the immense potential of creative collaboration in solving complex challenges. This instructive and engaging summary shall help you gain a deeper understanding of the new paradigm: ‘great leaders in a fertile relationship with a Great Group,’ along with practical lessons derived from historical examples.

The Power of Creative Collaborations

While the traditional notion of a “triumphant individual” persists, historical breakthroughs often arise from group efforts. From developing the atom bomb to the internet, individuals join forces to create something unprecedented. Highly effective and diverse groups are essential in our complex society, where technological advancements require innovative solutions. This paradigm shift is moving towards the Great Group model, comprising a leader and a supportive, creative team. These teams achieve greatness together, rather than relying on a single charismatic leader. The leader’s role is to inspire greatness within each individual, ultimately unleashing the power of collective intelligence.

Characteristics of Great Groups

Great Groups share several characteristics that enable them to achieve great things. These groups are composed of competent, independent-minded individuals who are united by a common goal and motivated by a powerful vision. Great Groups also tend to be nonhierarchical and collegial, with leaders who inspire and motivate rather than command or direct. These leaders bring together talented individuals with needed skills and give them the freedom to do their best work. While the focus is on the project, Great Groups foster an environment of mutual support, inspiration, and even love. Members develop a tight subculture, often composed of rebels and iconoclasts who are spurred by curiosity and new ideas. Great Groups usually have extraordinary leaders and can lose direction without them. Often, the members of these groups are young and committed, willing to work long hours and put their personal lives on hold for the greater good. Great Groups are exuberant, irrationally optimistic places, where the impossible seems possible.

Great Groups

The book explores the idea of “Great Groups” and how they have been responsible for major breakthroughs in history. The author argues that these groups are not just a collection of talented individuals, but a team of original thinkers who are focused on a common goal. The book assesses a number of examples such as Disney, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, Black Mountain College, and the Manhattan Project, among others. The book also recognizes that Great Groups typically need a strong leader who can effectively motivate and inspire the team. The book emphasizes that Great Groups are obsessed with their goal, and that failure is regarded as a learning experience rather than a setback. The book concludes by acknowledging that women have not always been included in these groups, but that they have played critical roles, as at Los Alamos.

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