Group Genius: Today It’s the Accepted Wisdom

In 2007, my business book Group Genius  was one of the first books about collaboration and innovation. Since 2007, a lot more books have been published on that topic, each one affirming the points in my book. That’s because Group Genius  was grounded in scientific research, and that research has stood the test of time.

The March 13 article “In Search of the Perfect Team” in the Wall Street Journal* makes the same recommendations that I did in 2007:

  • “Each member of the team is engaged” (WSJ)–everyone talks and listens about the same. This is in Group Genius, pp. 50-51
  • “There are a diversity of ideas, and everyone is willing to consider new ideas” (WSJ)–In Group Genius, pp. 70-72, also pp. 14-15
  • “Everyone is setting goals for a project” (WSJ)–each person explores something slightly different, but goes in the same direction. This tension is one of the main themes of Group Genius, but it’s most explicit on pp. 44-46.

The WSJ  article connects these themes to new technologies, like Slack, and Google’s data-based approach to team productivity in their People Operations Department. These help drive collaboration; I talk about Slack and also Google’s research in the forthcoming second edition of Group Genius  (coming this May!). But this technology doesn’t change the underlying social dynamics of effective collaboration. Stay grounded in the research, and you’ll stand the test of time.

*2017, May 13, “In search of a perfect team.” Stu Wu, Wall Street Journal, p. R6.

2 thoughts on “Group Genius: Today It’s the Accepted Wisdom

  1. Keith, love your book. Did you see the NYTimes Magazine article on Google’s research into high performing teams ( I think you’ll find their conclusions equally validating. One quibble I have. Not sure it’s accurate to say you had one of the first books about collaboration and innovation. Saying that ignores the work of the folks at the Creative Education Foundation — especially Alex Osborne, Sidney Parnes, E. Paul Torrence, Donald Treffinger, Scott Isaksen, George Land, Steve Grossman, among others — and their annual Creative Problem Soving Institute which has been held continuously since 1954.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! Yes, the research in the article you mentioned is in my second edition of GROUP GENIUS coming out in May. Right, they also found pretty much the same thing I wrote about in 2007. I know CEF and CPSi very well, I summarized that history in my 2012 creativity textbook Explaining Creativity. That tradition is primarily known for individual-focused research, so I don’t consider that tradition to have much to say about collaboration. (except for Osborn’s invention, brainstorming, and we know how that research turned out.) Yes, absolutely there were some brilliant books before mine, such as Surowiecki’s book THE WISDOM OF CROWDS 2004, and Farrell’s book COLLABORATE CIRCLES 2001 and LEADERSHIP ENSEMBLE by Seifter 2001. I studied them closely while writing GROUP GENIUS.

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