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POWERS OF TWO – Shenk

PowersOfTwo“The genesis of the great man depends on a long series of complex influences, before he can remake his society.  His society must make him”. (Spencer)  Rather than focus on the solitary hero snatching inspiration from the unconscious, this concept emphasizes the long, meandering course of innovation.   Instead of heroic individuals, it prioritizes heroic cultures.

The lone genius idea has become our dominant view of creativity not because of its inherent truth – in fact, it neglects and obscures the social qualities of innovation – but because it makes for a good story.  Where the lone genius model is galvanizing but simplistic, the network model is suitably nuanced but hard to apply to day to day life.

One member of the duo takes the lone genius spotlight while the other remains in history’s shadows.

“Every man’s mind is modified by all the objects of nature and art;  by every word and every suggestion which he ever admitted to act upon his consciousness”. (Shelley)

Creativity is to bring into existence something genuinely new that is valued enough to be added to the culture.

Google and Yahoo employees are insisted to work in the office.  They have found that bodies matter, in part because nonverbal communication is important.  Studies have shown that gestures are more than four times as important as words.  In shared spaces people plug into “neural WiFi”, a feedback loop.  Goleman says;  “that when people talk to each other our own thoughts can’t possibly track the complexity of the dance”.

The authors of a new paradigm can’t be total strangers to the field, but they can’t be vested insiders either, or they will be constrained by convention.   Insiders are especially vulnerable to stasis in the very fields, like academia, that prefers to value originality.  Corporate teams to well with a clear mission and a deviant who asks uncomfortable questions.

Highly creative people see the world in an unusual way, or they wouldn’t be able to make something new out of the materials of that world.

“It’s not possible today but it’s not impossible.  Let me work on it”.  “Instead of being teacher and student, now, at least on some levels, we were accomplices”.

Creativity is dependent on external conditions.

Creativity is what happens when the dreamer meets the doer.

Rilke (the poet), while preaching self reliance, was himself deep in debt to the opinions, styles and influences of others.  Thinking, then, is a kind of download of exchanges with other people.  We don’t create by ourselves, even when we are alone.  “Slavish imitation” is actually recommended.  Eventually six of eight influential voices blend together and combine into something singular and original.  In other words, you combine your influences in such a distinct and affecting way that no one notices the source.  That is one of the paradoxes of creativity, that the way to originality is through imitation.

A creative person may need to entertain a thousand solutions in order to find the one that works.  Unfettered thinking generates the thousand.  Analytical thinking helps us see the one that works.  Great work emerges from rivalry.  Playing with the best brings out your best.

Categories: Book Summary

ron winnegrad

Ron Winnegrad has been a Perfumer and teacher for 46 years. As a perfumer, Ron has been able to express the world he sees through a rainbow of olfactive and emotive visions. As a teacher, Ron has helped others to see fragrance through his own multi sensorial lens.

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