Blog > Group Genius for people not in groups

November 2, 2008

I’m re-reading Keith Sawyer’s book Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration after hearing Keith speak at the improv conference in Chicago.

Many of the things that Keith said resonated:

  • Improv has important lessons for business – the group generates something better than even the best individual
  • Improv is action without planning where the meaning emerges – meaning that is unpredictable, emerges over time, maybe involves lots of dead ends and where everyone creates
  • And we need ‘dead ends’ – that allow the collective wisdom of the group to emerge
  • Balance the need to get business done with the need to be innovative

It also occurred to me that innovation in facilitation is about the experience, not necesarilly about new processes (although it can be that too). And what improvisation can bring to facilitation is a new way of experiencing.

Keith also talked about some of the myths of creativity and innovation:

Myth: The flash of insight
Reality: Emerges over time

Myth: Straight path to success
Reality: Multiple dead ends

Myth: The lone genius
Reality: Small ideas from many different people

Which brings me to the question of how to tap into group genius when you work by yourself? It’s one of the reasons I attend conferences, have coffee and lunch with friends, skype  – the opportunity to share ideas with others. How do you tap into the group genius?

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