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Trust In Group Genius December 8, 2009

Posted by Emily Lin in Group Genius, [Books] Ways of Thinking.
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The book “Group Genius” convinced me of 1) group innovation is better than individual creativity, and 2) genius is not from “spark of light” but from hard work and diversified experiences. The author Keith Sawyer cited evidence from historical inventions, research results, consulting experiences, and recent business examples to support his argument of group creativity. I found it really compelling and in line with all we’ve talked in this class.

Besides his “official” title as Associate Professor of Education and of Psychology at Washington University, Keith Sawyer is also an accomplished pianist. He worked as a pianist in an improvisation theater while observing their group innovation process for two years. He found that the group innovation principles and process in performance art are highly similar to those in business organizations. This gave me permission and confidence in pursuing dance on top of my MBA title.

I have been dancing and choreographing as a side profession for a long time. This semester, I am fortunate to enroll in the class “Sources of Movement” in Berkeley Theater, Dance, and Performance Department, and it became one of the most fulfilling class at all times. The biggest surprising experience was indeed group genius. Being fully committed and following the group flow, I was surprised that the group can together improvise numerous group pieces that were far more creative and exciting than any individual’s or choreographer’s images. As the society and education system highly rewards left brain thinkers and heroic leadership, letting go of self-ego and desire to be in command is an internal struggle that I sometimes had during group exercises. As time goes by, I learned to enjoy just being with the group at the very moment without thinking what my own next steps should be. This is the first time that I have true confidence in myself and the group to go by pure improvisation. Based on mutual trust and practices, the group improvisation results convinced me to embrace this collaborative way of innovation. I could apply this skill in other settings such as brainstorming activities or business innovation.