Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Group Genius" & "Genius Leadership", the former requires the latter!

"It’s Time to Bury the Idea of the Lone Genius Innovator"...really?

says Greg Satell )

I would differ with Mr. Satell’s less than novel opinion, because he fails to take into account the works by actual geniuses; those who inspired tens of thousands through their undeniable originality. Such works are inspired by collective action, no doubt. However, you simply cannot ignore the significance of individual effort and its lasting effect on others. 

             You know something which is produced is entirely original when it becomes something everybody else wants to claim for themselves, but it simply can't be extracted from the originator (if the originator wishes to claim it for himself/herself). That is the crux; keeping the invention once you've created it, but why devalue significant efforts by individual innovators, and their actual achievements because of the phenomenon of emulation? Commending individual effort doesn't take away from good teamwork, it should make it better! 

Authors of great works: Einstein, Fermat and the guy who cracked his Last Theorem (Andrew Wiles), oldies but goodies like Pythagoras, new-agers like Bucky Fuller, modern day Mandelbrot(s), particularly mathematicians like these! These are the real creators. Did they rely on the works of others in their creations, of course! However, it is impossible to remove the acts of genius from the geniuses themselves. 

To steal a term from Keith Sawyer, the notion of "group genius" need not omit leadership by geniuses, i.e. the Manhattan Project. Granted leadership by geniuses tends to obsessive and compassionate, even uncomfortable, for those that are subject to it. Chaos, "storming, norming and performing" are intrinsically human; we are talking about nonlinear iterative "processes", save argumentation, which tend to address paradoxically mundane minutia that result in sudden herculean scientific advancements. Such tasks are tedious, even painful. However, one can’t occur without the other, and it is a bit of a mystery that the egg and chicken occur together. You might be able to describe what happened to someone else according to a genius' account, but if you didn’t participate in the creation of it you can’t really deduce the essence of their brilliance working to create other geniuses. "Genius leadership" is an infectious prerequisite for "group genius", see Steve Jobs, see Bill Gates.

I’m reluctant to put Elon Musk in the same category, he’s a tech fop, akin to Edison. If it isn't plagiarized (say from Tesla) then where did the idea come from, or who did it first come through? We are inspired by real genius, taking things out of context and making them more relevant, even when we are uncomfortable with it; Mark Zuckerberg.

It is fundamentally the genius of individuals contributing to group genius, the two are related, but these are separate phenomenon, separated in time and space. Group genius necessitates genius leadership. Genius is the originating seed for all future progress to sprout from; Tony Hawk. Myopic and counter-culture as actual genius may seem at first, it grows into something much larger. Is it any less genius when a things’ significance is not realized at first? Of course not, because most of us are slow. However, when genius occurs, it is first observed by those individuals who are predisposed to encounter a rare juxtaposition of reality, who then become the life blood of innovation acting upon a passion driven by new knowledge.

Innovation comes from deep meditation, deep focus on the nuances of observation and contemplation. Extreme focus, and tedious efforts are made by specific individuals (who are themselves hard working and very disciplined, although socially quirky). These traits enable genius to emerge in the individual, then others capitalize off their undeniable momentum. Capitalization of an individual’s genius is the essence of group genius, and the former is a prerequisite for the latter. Subsequently, group genius is driven by genius.

I don’t want to get into the fact that there are different kinds of genius, some of which are more opportunistic, others of which are more hermetic. Yet others are plainly lucky. There are vast arrays possible here, but don't let your ideas about the righteousness of collegial relationships enter into the sacred realm of individual genius, because without Euclid, Alan Turing, Darwin, Kepler, The Bernoullis, Newton, Franklin, Attucks, Leibniz, Russel, we'd all be living in a very different world today. These people weren’t universally loved. These individuals were competitive, arrogant, fierce debaters that criticized others widely and boldly. Were they amidst group genius, certainly! Were they significant contributing individuals as geniuses themselves, certainly!

It is not one or the other, it is one AND the other; a significant paradigm shift. “Group genius” and  “genius leadership” are of the same thing; collaboration, improvisation, intuition, competition, ego, and insightful transcending reason which inspires. Where there is genius leadership there is group genius. You can't have one without the other. At least that’s what the past has shown.

Who really knows what the future holds? We pray for a true genius to emerge. However, if we study past genius we can perhaps learn a thing or two. Sometimes the urge to be innovative supersedes the urge to be honest. Sometimes the drive to be radical is greater than the drive to be practical. Nonetheless, we must take into account past facts, and perhaps chart a new course forward. However, if old formulas still work, why “innovate” simply to deviate? That’s marketing more than substance. Well played, sir.

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