In his book Group Genius, psychologist Keith Sawyer argues that all great ideas are the result of collaboration – that the notion of the lone creative genius toiling in obscurity is simply untrue. Sawyer’s point is that, whether consciously or subconsciously, we are constantly absorbing input from others that informs and refines our ideas – helping to make them better and push them forward.
At the same time, in his bestselling book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future,author Daniel Pink posits that “logical and precise, left-brain thinking gave us the Information Age” and “now comes the Conceptual Age - ruled by artistry, empathy, and emotion.”
Of course, Pink is too smart to suggest that we can live on love (of concepts) alone. Rather, he argues that “logical, linear, analytic thinking” is “no longer enough.” That is, right-brain skills are equally, if not more, valuable in the creative economy than left-brain skills.
Giving credence to the combined wisdom of both Sawyer and Pink’s arguments, a current Harvard Business Review article points out that many of the most creative and successful businesses are powered by a right-brain/left-brain partnership, marrying the distinctive abilities of the creative and the analytical mind:
“The world’s most innovative companies often operate under some variation of a both-brain partnership. In technology the creative partner might be a brilliant engineer like Bill Hewlett and the business executive a savvy manager like David Packard. In the auto industry the team might be a “car guy” like Hal Sperlich—a major creative force behind both the original Ford Mustang and the first Chrysler minivan—and a management wizard like Lee Iacocca. The former track coach Bill Bowerman developed Nike’s running shoes; his partner, Phil Knight, handled manufacturing, finance, and sales. Howard Schultz conceived the iconic Starbucks coffeehouse format, and CEO Orin Smith oversaw the chain’s rapid growth. Apple may have the best-known both-brain partnership. CEO Steve Jobs has always acted as the creative director and has helped to shape everything from product design and user interfaces to the customer experience at Apple’s stores. COO Tim Cook has long handled the day-to-day running of the business.”
***This article is adapted from the research and writing of Jocelyn K. Glei, a creative strategist with expertise in editorial, design and publishing. She regularly collaborates with Scott Belsky and the Behance Team, who run the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develop knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.