The Genius of Group Collaboration

I just finished reading Group Genius- the Creative Power of Collaboration by Keith Sawyer. I really enjoyed it. It was a superb book, and I would highly recommend it.


A really neat aspect of the book for me was its focus on Improv. I had some experience with Improv several years ago through classes taught by Gina Trimarco at Carolina Improv Company in Myrtle Beach SC. It was a huge step out for a career introvert, but I absolutely loved the classes. I like the unscripted, mental challenge of Improv. If you ever have the chance, I’d suggest you take the dare and leap into an Improv class.  Or you can be really brave and just head to Myrtle Beach and take one of Gina’s classes.

Here’s me in an Improv class at CIC-

Improv Acting_Uptown MB

I’m a huge nerd, so one of my favorite aspects of Sawyer’s book is that it came across like an academic treatise on Improv. If I summed up the book in a few words I’d say, “You know Improv is awesome, but here’s scientific research explaining why it’s so awesome”.

Most of the book is relatively straight-forward case studies and research findings, but the last section really grabbed me by the short hairs. In it Sawyer delved into opinion and what he thought should be done to make our world a more collaboratively creative place.  I wanted to present his manifesto and see what you thought about it. If you would like to go beyond my descriptions and dive into his explanations for each item, be sure to check out the book. He presents compelling arguments.

Here are seven things Sawyer things should be done to change the world to reward indivuals and nurture collaboration at the same time-

  1. Drastically reduce copyright terms.
  2. Reward the small sparks of innovation, such as open source communities, and not just the patentable inventions.
  3. Legalize product modifications.
  4. Free the employees by abolishing non-compete agreements.
  5. Establish mandatory licensing requirements and set the pricing for such.
  6. Mandate patent pools.
  7. Mandate industry-wide standards for everything.

I agree with some of his ideas, but seriously oppose others. I have to admit that my own leanings these days are very libertarian. In other words, I’d rather trust the people and the market than the government. For me, most of  Sawyer’s reccomendations look like an attempt to spur creativity by getting the government involved more. An increase in laws, regulations and government interference will make people more creative? I just don’t see how that happens.

What do you think?

One thought on “The Genius of Group Collaboration

  1. I love collaboration and, taking this to a global scale, think so many issues could be solved. Unfortunately, those seven steps are blasphemy to anyone that earns money, especially corporate types. If they could be convinced that collaboration would actually help make more money in the long run, it would work. Good luck with that.

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