The ABC’s of Scaling Genius: Architect, Bridger, and Catalyst Leadership for Breakthrough Innovation
How CEOs and Boards Collaborate to Foster an Innovative Culture and Drive Growth
Hey there, it’s your host Michael Barrick, and today we’re diving into the groundbreaking research of Collective Genius 2.0. What they found will blow your mind. Successful leaders didn’t just build innovative organizations; they also created networks and ecosystems that could co-create across organizational boundaries. In addition, these leaders mastered what they call “scaling genius.”
Along with Emily, Jason, and Karl, Linda conducted longitudinal studies in 18 countries and 21 industries, all with the goal of transforming their organizations into innovation engines. But that’s not all; Linda also partnered with Sunand Menon and Ann Le Cam to survey over 1,500 executives in some 90 countries about leadership challenges and opportunities in the digital world.
In Collective Genius 1.0, Linda, Greg, Emily, and Kent shared their research on leaders who consistently built organizations that could innovate. They democratized innovation by inviting everyone to co-create the future with them. These leaders didn’t rely on individual genius or “aha” moments. Instead, they created an inclusive definition of leadership that allowed innovation to flourish at all levels of the organization.
So if you’re ready to learn from the best and revolutionize your leadership style, stick around because this post is for you.
Leading Innovation: Collective Genius 1.0
So, what does it mean to scale genius? This new type of leadership, characterized by the Architect, Bridger, and Catalyst (ABCs), represents a significant shift in how leaders approach innovation in today’s competitive business landscape.
Architects design the organizational systems that enable and facilitate co-creation.
Bridgers create connections and relationships between diverse stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, and competitors.
Catalysts spark and sustain the energy and passion required to drive innovation forward.
Scaling genius is about creating an environment where everyone is empowered to contribute their genius to the collective effort. It’s about breaking down the silos that limit collaboration and creating a culture of openness, trust, and transparency. It’s about taking risks, experimenting, and learning from failure.
Scaling genius requires leaders to take on multiple functions, including the architects. Leaders who want to build a culture of innovation must create an environment that fosters creativity and supports everyone in the organization to be willing and able to innovate. This is the central message of Collective Genius, a book that explores the intersection between leadership and innovation.
In today’s digital age, the stakes are even higher, and digital tools and data are key enablers of co-creation. Leaders must recognize this and adapt accordingly. They must use the five levers of leadership style, talent, structure, operating model, and tools to design, build, and evolve their organizational architectures to support innovation over time. By doing so, they can remove the barriers that limit creativity and build the mindsets and behaviors required for co-creation.
A. The Architect Leader
The role of the leader as an architect is critical to scaling genius. Leaders must create a culture that encourages innovation at all levels of the organization. This means that frontline workers must be empowered to contribute their ideas and expertise, and senior executives must be willing to listen and collaborate. The architect-leader must use their knowledge and experience to design a framework that enables the organization to succeed.
The First Lever: Leadership Style
The architect-leader must use a leadership style to model the behavior they want to see in others. They must be willing to take risks and learn from their mistakes. They must be transparent and communicate clearly with their teams. By doing so, they can build trust and create an environment that supports innovation.
The Board’s Role:
The board of directors can do this by modeling the behavior they want to see in others. This means taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from them. It also means being transparent and communicating clearly with their teams, building trust, and creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and expertise.
The board of directors should also be actively involved in setting the tone for the organization. They should establish a clear vision and mission that emphasizes innovation and encourages everyone in the organization to contribute to the company’s success.
In addition to modeling the behavior they want to see in others, the board of directors should also provide guidance and support to the CEO and leadership team as they work to build a culture of innovation. This includes holding regular meetings with the CEO and other senior leaders to discuss innovation initiatives, providing feedback and guidance on these initiatives, and helping identify potential obstacles or challenges.
The Second Lever: Talent.
The architect-leader must hire the right people for the right job. They must look for individuals with diverse expertise and experience willing and able to collaborate, experiment, and learn together. They must provide opportunities for professional development and create a culture of continuous learning.
The Board’s Role:
The board of directors plays a crucial role in shaping an organization’s talent strategy. They should work with the executive team to define the skills and experience needed to achieve the organization’s goals and mission.
The board should ensure that the compensation and benefits packages are competitive and aligned with industry standards to attract and retain the right talent. They should also provide opportunities for professional development, including training, mentorship, and career progression. This will help employees grow their skills and knowledge and increase their engagement and satisfaction with their work.
Creating a culture of continuous learning is also critical to scaling genius. The board should encourage and support employees to experiment and take calculated risks, recognizing that failures are opportunities for growth and learning.
The Third Lever: Structure.
The architect-leader must create an organizational structure that supports innovation, including establishing clear roles and responsibilities and providing the necessary resources and support for teams to succeed. They must also develop performance metrics and guardrails to minimize outsize risk-taking and keep people aligned.
The Board’s Role:
The board of directors is critical in creating an organizational structure that supports innovation. They must work collaboratively with the executive team to design an organizational structure that enables innovation to thrive at all levels of the organization.
One key aspect is establishing clear roles and responsibilities for all employees. The board should ensure that each team member understands their responsibilities and how they fit into the organization’s overall mission and vision. This helps ensure everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals.
Establishing clear roles and responsibilities for all employees can be done through policies, procedures, and guidelines. The board of directors can work with management to develop and implement policies that define each employee’s responsibilities and expectations, as well as the chain of command and reporting structure. This can include job descriptions, performance metrics, and regular feedback mechanisms to ensure that employees meet their responsibilities and contribute to the organization’s success. Additionally, the board can guide and support management in developing and implementing training and development programs to help employees build the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their roles.
In addition to establishing clear roles and responsibilities, the board should provide the necessary resources and support for teams to succeed. This includes providing funding, technology, and training opportunities for employees to develop their skills and knowledge. Investing in their employees can create a continuous learning and development culture where everyone is encouraged to improve their skills and take on new challenges.
Performance metrics and guardrails are also crucial in ensuring that the organization focuses on innovation while minimizing risks. The board should work with the executive team to develop metrics that measure progress toward innovation goals and hold teams accountable for their performance. At the same time, guardrails should be put in place to ensure that risk-taking is kept within acceptable limits and that everyone in the organization is aware of the potential risks involved in pursuing innovation.
The Fourth Lever: Operating Model.
The architect-leader must create an operating model that supports innovation. They must establish processes that enable teams to collaborate effectively and share knowledge and resources. They must also develop a culture of experimentation, where failure is seen as an opportunity to learn and improve.
The Board’s Role
The board should actively monitor and evaluate the operating model to ensure that it delivers the desired outcomes. In addition, the board should ensure performance metrics align with the organization’s goals and objectives. These metrics should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are still relevant and meaningful.
By actively monitoring and evaluating the operating model, the board can create a culture of continuous improvement and innovation across the organization. As a result, employees will see that the organization is committed to its success and is willing to make changes to support innovation and growth. This can lead to greater employee engagement, higher job satisfaction, and better business results.
The Fifth Lever: Tools.
The architect-leader must provide the right tools and technology to support innovation. They must invest in digital tools and data analytics that enable teams to collaborate and innovate across organizational boundaries.
The Board’s Role:
The board’s role in providing the right tools and technology to support innovation cannot be overstated. First, the board must ensure the organization has the tools and technologies to enable management and directors to collaborate and innovate effectively. This can be achieved through a board portal such as Board Director, which provides a secure, centralized platform for sharing information, collaborating on projects, and making decisions.
Board Director is a tool that allows board members and executives to access critical information and collaborate in real time from anywhere. It provides a secure environment for sharing confidential documents, tracking performance metrics, and managing projects. With a board portal, the board can provide the necessary digital tools and data analytics to enable teams to collaborate and innovate across organizational boundaries.
In addition, a board portal can provide a platform for sharing information, receiving feedback, and addressing concerns promptly and effectively. Ultimately, the board’s investment in digital tools through a board portal can help the organization achieve its innovation goals by providing the necessary infrastructure for collaboration, experimentation, and continuous learning.
To summarize this section, leaders who aspire to drive innovation and excellence at scale must act as architects. First, they must establish a culture of innovation that empowers and motivates every organization member to contribute to the company’s success. Once a culture of innovation is in place, leaders can use the five levers of leadership style, talent, structure, operating model, and tools to design, build, and evolve their organizational architecture to support innovation. Continuously changing the corporate architecture will ensure it remains agile and can adapt quickly to change while remaining aligned with its strategic goals.
B. The Bridger.
In the quest to scale genius, leaders must also take on the role of a bridge. While it’s already challenging to encourage innovation within an organization, it’s even more difficult to promote collaboration with people outside of it. Bridgers must gain access to talent and tools that cannot be found within their own company or department. This is often attempted by building separate innovation labs, incubators, and accelerators to bring diverse parties together to co-create.
To be effective, bridgers must establish social connections across organizations, sectors, industries, and geographies. They must establish a sense of mutual trust, mutual influence, and mutual commitment to creating a collaborative environment. Bridgers must also be able to identify and connect people with complementary skills and expertise, align them around a shared goal, and create the conditions for them to work together effectively.
Bridging requires a leader adept at building and maintaining relationships, communicating effectively, and negotiating and managing conflict. It’s not an easy task, but the rewards can be significant. By bringing together diverse perspectives and expertise, bridgers can create breakthrough innovations that are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve within the confines of a single organization.
The Board’s Role:
The board can play a critical role as “bridgers” by connecting the organization with external partners, resources, and opportunities that can help drive innovation. For example, they can establish partnerships with other organizations, such as universities, research institutions, and startups, to access talent and expertise that may not be available within their own company. The board can also leverage its networks to identify and engage potential collaborators and sponsors, such as investors and industry experts.
To be effective as a Bridger, the board must foster a culture of openness and collaboration within their organization. They must encourage their teams to be receptive to new ideas and perspectives and actively seek collaboration opportunities with external partners.
Overall, the board’s role as a Bridger is critical to scaling genius by connecting their organization with external partners, resources, and opportunities that can help drive innovation and create breakthrough innovations.
C. The Catalyst Leader
Organizations must find new ways to scale their genius and achieve breakthrough innovations as the business landscape becomes increasingly competitive. One approach is to embrace the role of the catalyst leader, who can foster collaborative relationships beyond the organization and accelerate the co-creation process.
The catalyst leader creates an environment encouraging and supporting collaborations with individuals and groups outside the organization. They must possess unique skills, including effective communication, relationship building, and facilitation, to accelerate innovation and impact.
Effective communication is critical to being a successful catalyst leader. The leader must articulate the organization’s vision and goals to external stakeholders and build trust and rapport. They must also manage the complexity of navigating multiple relationships and interests while staying focused on creating breakthrough innovations.
Building trust and rapport with external stakeholders is another critical skill for the catalyst leader. By establishing mutual trust, influence, and commitment, the leader can create an environment where collaborators are willing to share their ideas and expertise. This, in turn, can lead to more effective co-creation and breakthrough innovations.
Facilitation is also crucial for the catalyst leader. The leader must manage the co-creation process effectively, ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned around the shared goal and that the conditions for effective collaboration are in place. This requires a deep understanding of the diverse cultures, values, and practices of the stakeholders involved and the ability to manage the complexity of navigating multiple relationships and interests.
The Board’s Role
The board is critical in supporting the CEO’s efforts to be a catalyst leader. As the governing body responsible for the organization’s strategic direction and performance, the board must embrace the importance of collaboration and co-creation to achieve breakthrough innovations.
The board can support the CEO’s role as a catalyst leader by providing the necessary resources and tools. The board can also encourage the CEO to build relationships with external stakeholders, such as customers, partners, and investors, to foster collaboration and co-creation.
In addition, the board can provide guidance and oversight to ensure that the CEO’s efforts as a catalyst leader align with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives. For example, the board can help the CEO establish a collaboration and co-creation framework that considers the stakeholders’ diverse cultures, values, and practices. The board can also monitor and evaluate the organization’s innovation efforts and provide feedback and guidance to the CEO on how to improve.
Furthermore, the board can act as a catalyst leader by encouraging collaboration and co-creation among its members. The board can create opportunities for directors to share their expertise and perspectives, align around a shared goal, and co-create solutions to complex challenges. This can foster a culture of collaboration and co-creation within the organization and provide a model for engaging with external stakeholders.
The board plays a crucial role in supporting the CEO’s efforts to be a catalyst leader and acting as a catalyst leader. By investing in the necessary resources and tools, providing guidance and oversight, and fostering a culture of collaboration and co-creation, the board can help the organization achieve breakthrough innovations and thrive in an increasingly competitive business landscape.
In conclusion, “Scaling Genius: Collective Genius 2.0” is a new type of leadership characterized by the Architect, Bridger, and Catalyst (ABCs) represents a significant shift in how leaders approach innovation in today’s competitive business landscape. The ABCs requires a leader to be an architect, designing an organizational structure that supports collaboration and innovation. The bridger, building social connections and establishing trust with external stakeholders, is essential to co-create new ideas and bring them to fruition. Finally, the catalyst leader must possess the skills to accelerate the co-creation process and foster breakthrough innovations.
The future of business and society is dependent on leaders who can develop an innovative mindset and skill set. Organizations can stay ahead of the competition by creating a culture that fosters innovation, encourages experimentation, and drives positive societal change. However, this cannot be achieved by the CEO alone. The board of directors must also play a critical role in supporting the CEO in driving innovation within the organization. The board can enable the CEO to lead the organization toward a more innovative future by providing the necessary resources, tools, and technology.
In conclusion, the ABCs of Scaling Genius represents a new paradigm of leadership that requires leaders to be architects, bridgers, and catalysts. By fostering an innovative culture and building collaborative relationships, leaders can drive breakthrough innovations that have the potential to create significant positive change in society. In addition, through collaboration between the CEO and the board of directors, organizations can achieve their innovation goals and stay ahead of the competition in the ever-evolving business landscape.
Thank you for reading. See you next time.