Why do certain groups of smart, talented people produce greatness while others never live up to their potential? How do some managers with excellent skills lead their organizations to amazing feats while others fall short? The answers to those vital questions lie in the remarkable workings of a Great Group.
In Organizing Genius, America’s most respected leadership expert teams with a veteran journalist to explore the forces that foster creative collaboration. By analyzing six histories of Great Groups – from the Manhattan Project to the teams that developed today’s personal computer – Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman uncover the secrets of collective genius.
Their findings illuminate every field, from business to the arts, from education to politics. All Great Groups, they conclude, aim to do more than fix a problem; there out to change the world. And they do. From the Disney Feature Animation unit, which rewrote our myths on the silver screen, to the top-secret Skunk Works airplane factory at Lockheed, Great Groups have accomplished more than anyone thought possible.
Organizing Genius captures the spirit of discovery that pervades Great Groups. It describes the free-form organization of such teams, more interested in their mission than their hierarchy. The authors discuss how Great Groups believe both that their underdogs up against a powerful foe and that they’re bound to succeed, like the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign. Organizing Genius also illuminates the rules of a Great Group leader is a gatherer of talent, a source of inspiration, and a bridge to the outside world.
Today all organizations require creative thinking from every member, Not just a few. The world’s complexity and pace mean that we can no longer rely on individual leaders and “Lone Rangers” to solve our problems. Rather, we must learn to work together, to identify our own missions, to form our own Great Groups. The fascinating stories and wise advice in Organizing Genius show us how.
Warren Bennis is distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California. His books Leaders (co-authored with Bert Nanus) and On Becoming a Leader have made him the nation’s most respected expert on leadership. He has advised four U.S. presidents and consults frequently with top corporations and organizations.
Patricia Ward Biederman is a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and was previously an award-winning columnist for the Buffalo News. She specializes in feature articles on cultural affairs.