Linda Hill, Collective Genius and Innovation

 “Everybody has slice of genius”

-Linda Hill


Linda Hill is a professor of management at Harvard Business School. Linda while doing research on leadership came to conclusion that research on leadership was not same as research on innovation. While a visionary leader can bring about change desired change in organisation, innovation is a collective effort. Innovation is brought about by group of people not by a solo leader.


This new generation does not want to follow. As one of the leaders said, “If I said, I’m the visionary, you follow me, they won’t follow me.” They don’t want to follow you to the future; they want to co-create the future with you. The idea of collective genius is just to capture the imagination of a lot of young people, because they want to be able to co-create, [and] not be a follower, in the traditional sense.”

-Linda Hill


Linda studied various organisations like Pixar (Steve Jobs), IBM, HCL (Vineet Nayar) and came to conclusion that innovation is collective effort of creative group of individuals.

“And there are three things that we’ve known for a long time about innovation. Most innovation is the result of collaborative work, of diverse individuals with different points of view and different expertise.

The second thing is that most innovation is the result of discoveries from learning. You don’t plan your way to an innovation, you act your way. Almost all innovations [have] lots of missteps, false starts, mistakes.

And then the final thing we know is that most innovations are not completely new: using the combination of old ideas, [or] a reconfiguration of some old ideas, to solve a new problem or address a new opportunity.”

-Linda Hill


Amination films made by Pixar were due to efforts of group of creative individuals, it would not have been possible if it was top driven organisation headed by Steve Jobs. Creativity of Steve Jobs is not as effective as creativity of group of individuals.

In HCL its CEO encouraged employees to come up with creative ideas to make HCL profitable, one such philosophy was “Employees First, Customers Second”.



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