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E Pluribus Unum

  • Jan 11, 2000
If you were to look up the word "leadership" in any reputable dictionary, it would probably suggest that you contact Warren Bennis. No one has written more and more enlightening commentary on the subject of leadership than has he. In Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration, he and Patricia Ward Biederman examine a number of what the authors call "Great Groups." Perhaps the most important point is introduced in the first chapter: "None of us is as smart as all of us."

That is to say, the "Great Man" theory is invalidated by the achievements of truly creative teams such as those at the Disney studios which produced so many animation classics; at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) which developed the first personal computer; at Apple Computer which then took it to market; in the so-called "War Room" which helped to elect Bill Clinton President in 1992; at the so-called "Skunk Works" where so many of Lockheed's greatest designs were formulated; at Black Mountain College which "wasn't simply a place where creative collaboration took place. It was about creative collaboration"; and at Los Alamos (NM) and the University of Chicago where the Manhattan Project eventually produced a new weapon called "the Gadget."

Bennis and Biederman conclude Organizing Genius by providing 15 "Take-Home Lessons." Each is directly relevant to any organization which aspires to accomplish what Steve Jobs once described as being "insanely great."

With all due respect to the command-and-control skills of great leaders in the past (including most of those enshrined in the "Business Hall of Fame"), such skills simply are not effective today. "None of us is as smart as all of us." A group can become "great" only if and when it possesses both genius in each member and the leadership necessary to achieve creative collaboration by those members. With rare exception, "Genius" in isolation simply cannot accomplish what "genius" in creative collaboration can.

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Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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For years, Warren Bennis has written about leadership in works such asLearning to Lead,Beyond Leadership, and the bestsellingOn 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 Geniuswill 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.
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ISBN-10: 0201339897
ISBN-13: 978-0201339895
Author: Warren Bennis
Genre: Business & Investing, Health, Mind & Body
Publisher: Basic Books
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