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The Secret Source of Innovation

Innovation is “collective genius, not solo genius.” This idea and need for collective creativity and innovation can be found in Linda Hill’s Ted Talk. Linda Hill defines innovation as “…anything that is both new and useful. It can be a product or service. It can be a process or a way of organizing. It can be incremental, or it can be breakthrough.”

Innovation requires a team, and great leadership. But leadership must be redefined as we know it. Great leadership doesn’t always go by the book and leaders of innovation are unconventional at their core. Hill says that, “Leadership is the secret sauce.”

Today, we consider Pixar a mainstream company, but it took Pixar twenty years to complete its first full-length movie. This innovation of computer generated graphics took a community of creative thinkers to propel the company forward from the time of its first movie, when it was a truly innovative idea. Innovation was driven and defined by its Founder and President, Ed Catmull.

Hill goes on to describe the process of innovation and how the ideas behind “creative abrasion, creative agility and creative resolution” must all work together to bring all aspects of innovation to the table. Creative abrasion brings about heated, but constructive arguments with those who actively listen. Creative agility is discovery driven learning, where creative resolution is a decision making process that combines opposing ideas. These methods must work together to bring any new innovative ideas together, whether that takes months or years.

Innovation takes a community of people and consistently building up that community who can come up with something highly innovative. This idea of “collective genius” is needed to innovate, and this all starts with the unconventional leader who let’s their team do the innovating.

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