Organizing Genius
in brief
Kentucky Principals
Academy
Bennis, W. & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius. New York, NY: Basic Books
Great Groups
What makes a “Great Group” so great?
– Great Groups have a leader with a clear vision.
– Great Groups are able to accomplish much more than talented
people working alone.
– Great Groups only succeed when everyone in them, leaders and
members alike, is free to do his or her absolute best.
– Great Groups have reshaped the world in very different but
enduring ways and that work is its own reward.
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Bennis, W. & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius. New York, NY: Basic Books
Great Groups and Enduring Impact
Each of the following groups has made a strong impact on our society and for
that reason were examined in Organizing Genius.

Walt Disney studio that invented the animated feature film in 1937 with Snow White
and the Seven Dwarfs.
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Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and Apple that first made computers easy
to use and accessible to everyone.

The 1992 Clinton campaign that put the first Democrat in the White House since
Jimmy Carter.
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The elite corps of aeronautical engineers and fabricators that built radically new
planes at Lockheed's top-secret Skunk Works.

The influential arts school and experimental community known as Black Mountain
College located in the foothills of North Carolina.

The Manhattan Project that developed the first nuclear weapon used during WWII.
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Bennis, W. & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius. New York, NY: Basic Books
Being Great in Several Senses
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Greatness starts with superb people!
– Recruiting the right people for the job is crucial.

Great Groups and great leaders create each
other.
– The leader and the team are able to achieve something together that
neither could achieve alone. The leader finds greatness in the group
and he or she helps the members find it in themselves.

Every Great Group has a strong leader.
– These groups are made up of individuals with unique gifts working
together, but there must be one organizing the genius.

Bennis, W. & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius. New York, NY: Basic Books

The leaders of great groups love talent and
know where to find it.
– Great Groups are headed by individuals that are confident to recruit
people better than themselves.

Great Groups are full of talented people that can
work together.
– Group members MUST be capable of working side by side with a
common goal.

Great Groups think that they are on a mission
from God.
– Great Groups always believe that they are doing something vital, even
holy.

Bennis, W. & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius. New York, NY: Basic Books

Every Great Group is an island – but an island
with a bridge to mankind.
– People trying to make radical changes in the world must be isolated
from the outside to focus, but still able to tap the outside resources.

Great Groups see themselves as winning
underdogs.
– These groups are able to snatch the prize from the “favorite” from out
of nowhere.

Great Groups always have an enemy.
– Having an enemy, whether real or imaginary, raises the stakes of the
competition and rallies the group to define itself.

Bennis, W. & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius. New York, NY: Basic Books

People in Great Groups have blinders on.
– Participants only have one passion – the task at hand.

Great Groups are optimistic, not realistic.
– Great Groups are most often youthful and filled with talented people
that don’t believe in the impossible.

In Great Groups the right person has the right
job.
– Finding your personal niche is vital to the success of the group.

Bennis, W. & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius. New York, NY: Basic Books

The leaders of Great Groups give the other
members what they need and free them from
the rest.
– Brilliant people want a challenge that will allow them to explore their
talent.
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Great Groups ship.
– Great Groups don’t just talk about things, they make these things
happen.

Great work is its own reward.
– Given a task that the group believes in and a chance to do it well, will
lead the group to work tirelessly for no more reward than the job at
hand.

Bennis, W. & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius. New York, NY: Basic Books
Does your
leadership team
function as a
Great Group?

Bennis, W. & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius. New York, NY: Basic Books
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