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Joshua Wolf Shenk on why creative pairs beat lone geniuses


“The pair is the primary creative unit — not just because pairs produce such a staggering amount of work but also because they help us to grasp the concept of dialectical exchange. At its heart, the creative process itself is about a push and pull between two entities, two cultures or traditions, or two people, or even a single person and the voice inside her head.”

This is how Joshua Wolf Shenk argues the case for creative pairs in the New York Times, in an excerpt of his book Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs. The idea of the solitary creator – the ‘genius’ – is a myth.

Shenk finds an ally in creativity researcher Keith Sawyer, author of the excellent Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration. In a post on his website, Sawyer makes the point that “when you scratch beneath the surface of any story about a big creative insight, you can easily find that the real story is one of collaboration and conversation.”

As always though, there are other viewpoints to be found – notable examples are Susan Cain’s Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s I, Woz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon – Getting to the Core of Apple’s Inventor.

Read the full post:
Publisher: New York Times
Author: Joshua Wolf Shenk
The End of ‘Genius’

Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar

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