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As faculty chair of the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School, Linda Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration, has chaired numerous HBS Executive Education programs. While doing research on leadership and innovation for her programs, Hill discovered that while there is plenty of information about both these ideas, there was very little linking the two together to create success. Specifically, she answers the question about what the leader's role is in sustaining an initiative organization.

These questions led her to co-author the book Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation with Greg Brandeau, former CTO of The Walt Disney Studios and current COO/president of Media Maker; Emily Truelove, a PhD candidate at MIT's Sloan School of Management; and Kent Lineback. The book argues that innovation is a "team sport," not the act of a sole inventor. "Truly innovative groups are consistently able to elicit and then combine members' separate slices of genius into a single work of collective genius," the authors write.

Full Profile

Linda A. Hill is the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. She is the faculty chair of the Leadership Initiative and has chaired numerous HBS Executive Education programs, including the Young Presidents’ Organization Presidents’ Seminar and the High Potentials Leadership Program.

She was course-head during the development of the new Leadership and Organizational Behavior MBA required course. She is the co-author, with Kent Lineback, of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives of Becoming a Great Leader and Breakthrough Leadership, a blended cohort-based program that helps organizations transform midlevel managers into more effective leaders. Breakthrough Leadership was the winner of the 2013 Brandon Hall Group Award for Best Advance in Unique Learning Technology. The book was included in the Wall Street Journal as one of the “Five Business Books to Read for Your Career in 2011.”

She is also the author of Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership (2nd Edition). In 2014, Professor Hill co-authored a book entitled Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation. It features thick descriptions of exceptional leaders of innovation in a wide range of industries—from information technology to law to design—and geographies—from the US and Europe to the Middle East and Asia. Business Insider named Collective Genius one of “The 20 Best Business Books” in summer 2014. Her books are available in multiple languages.


Linda Hill Speaker Videos Back to top

Innovation is a Collective Genius | Linda Hill | TEDxCambridge


In this TED talk, Linda Hill tells audiences they must let go of the ideas of conventional leadership. She argues the old design model of management as innovator and director needs to change to create innovative teams.

Teams should be created within organizations that can learn to advocate their points of view. Employees learn that innovation rarely happens without diversity and conflict.

Using the model of Creative Abrasion, Creative Agility, and Creative Resolution, team members learn discovery driven learning. She promotes the concept of listening and reacting to all points of view to create innovative ideas and structure.

Keynote Speech


Variations on Capitalism Around the Globe - Linda Hill



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Linda Hill's programs The Power of Leadership: Unleashing the Collective Genius in Your Organization and Leadership for Innovation: How to Create Collective Genius focus on her breakthrough approach that leadership is made up of a community of people willing to innovate.

Her idea of collaborative innovation and building communities of innovators help develop willing teams by pulling people together with a shared purpose values and rules of engagement. And they build capabilities by fostering intellectual diversity and debate (creative abrasion) high experimentation (creative agility) and integrative rather than compromise-driven solutions (creative resolution).

Her programs show how Steve Jobs, Pixar, and IBM, among others, use the highly collaborative community model to develop in their organizations the key capabilities required to get innovation done: collaboration, discovery-driven learning, and integrative decision-making. Professor Hill details what organizations can do to develop leaders with the right mindset and talents.

The Power of Leadership: Unleashing the Collective Genius in Your Organization

What does it take to build organizations that can innovate again and again? The short answer: the right leadership. In her new book, Collective Genius, Professor Hill shows exceptional leaders of innovation in action. Based on a decade of observations of leaders from across the globe, Hill reveals how they go about developing organizations where people are willing and able to do the hard work that innovative problem solving requires. They build communities with a shared purpose and consistent set of values and rules of engagement that allow individual slices of genius to be leveraged into collective genius. They develop in their organizations the key capabilities required to get innovation done: collaboration, discovery-driven learning, and integrative decision-making. Professor Hill details what organizations can do to develop leaders with the right mindset and talents.

Leadership for Innovation: How to Create Collective Genius

From her research on companies that have achieved breakthrough innovations Professor Hill found a common leadership approach. Leaders at Pixar eBay Germany Google HCL Technologies and IBM among others build communities of people who are both willing and able to innovate. They develop willing teams by pulling people together with a shared purpose values and rules of engagement. And they build capabilities by fostering intellectual diversity and debate (creative abrasion) high experimentation (creative agility) and integrative rather than compromise-driven solutions (creative resolution).

Steve Jobs for example, after acquiring Pixar put tremendous design effort into a new facility for hundreds of employees designing it much like an Italian neighborhood with a central meeting place to foster a highly collaborative community. Vineet Nayar CEO of India's IT leader HCL Technologies introduced an "Employee First" mantra and encouraged the company's young employees to define their value system and goals building an ambitious trust-based community.





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Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation

You might think the key to innovation is attracting exceptional creative talent. Or making the right investments. Or breaking down organizational silos. All of these things may help—but there’s only one way to ensure sustained innovation: you need to lead it—and with a special kind of leadership. Collective Genius shows you how.

Preeminent leadership scholar Linda Hill, along with former Pixar tech wizard Greg Brandeau, MIT researcher Emily Truelove, and Being the Boss coauthor Kent Lineback, found among leaders a widely shared, and mistaken, assumption: that a “good” leader in all other respects would also be an effective leader of innovation. The truth is, leading innovation takes a distinctive kind of leadership, one that unleashes and harnesses the “collective genius” of the people in the organization.

Using vivid stories of individual leaders at companies like Volkswagen, Google, eBay, and Pfizer, as well as nonprofits and international government agencies, the authors show how successful leaders of innovation don’t create a vision and try to make innovation happen themselves. Rather, they create and sustain a culture where innovation is allowed to happen again and again—an environment where people are both willing and able to do the hard work that innovative problem solving requires.


The Power of Leadership: Unleashing the Collective Genius in Your Organization

What does it take to build organizations that can innovate again and again? The short answer: the right leadership. In her new book, Collective Genius, Professor Hill shows exceptional leaders of innovation in action. Based on a decade of observations of leaders from across the globe, Hill reveals how they go about developing organizations where people are willing and able to do the hard work that innovative problem solving requires. They build communities with a shared purpose and consistent set of values and rules of engagement that allow individual slices of genius to be leveraged into collective genius. They develop in their organizations the key capabilities required to get innovation done: collaboration, discovery-driven learning, and integrative decision-making. Professor Hill details what organizations can do to develop leaders with the right mindset and talents.

Leadership for Innovation: How to Create Collective Genius

From her research on companies that have achieved breakthrough innovations Professor Hill found a common leadership approach. Leaders at Pixar eBay Germany Google HCL Technologies and IBM among others build communities of people who are both willing and able to innovate. They develop willing teams by pulling people together with a shared purpose values and rules of engagement. And they build capabilities by fostering intellectual diversity and debate (creative abrasion) high experimentation (creative agility) and integrative rather than compromise-driven solutions (creative resolution).

Steve Jobs for example, after acquiring Pixar put tremendous design effort into a new facility for hundreds of employees designing it much like an Italian neighborhood with a central meeting place to foster a highly collaborative community. Vineet Nayar CEO of India's IT leader HCL Technologies introduced an "Employee First" mantra and encouraged the company's young employees to define their value system and goals building an ambitious trust-based community.


Innovation is a Collective Genius | Linda Hill | TEDxCambridge


In this TED talk, Linda Hill tells audiences they must let go of the ideas of conventional leadership. She argues the old design model of management as innovator and director needs to change to create innovative teams.

Teams should be created within organizations that can learn to advocate their points of view. Employees learn that innovation rarely happens without diversity and conflict.

Using the model of Creative Abrasion, Creative Agility, and Creative Resolution, team members learn discovery driven learning. She promotes the concept of listening and reacting to all points of view to create innovative ideas and structure.

Keynote Speech


Variations on Capitalism Around the Globe - Linda Hill