January 7, 2015

The Keys to Leading Innovation, with Greg Brandeau

The keys to leading innovation successfully are the topics of discussion on the latest episode of “The Innovation Engine” podcast. We take a look at the importance of building a supportive community and psychological safety in creating an environment that rewards risk-taking, why it’s more important that executives be ringleaders rather than visionaries, and the importance of creative abrasion, creative agility, and creative resolution to the innovation process.

Greg Brandeau joins us on this week’s episode to discuss those topics and more. Greg is co-author of Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation, which he wrote along with Dr. Linda Hill of the Harvard Business School, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback. Collective Genius was named one of “The 20 Best Business Books to Read this Summer” by Business Insider. It shared this distinction with a number of other notable books published in 2014, including Flash Boys by Michael Lewis, Think Like a Freak, and books by Twitter founder Biz Stone and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. If you’re interested in learning more about the book, please visit its home online at https://collectivegeniusbook.com.

Greg is the Former COO and President of Maker Media, and he’s also the former CTO of The Walt Disney Studios. He spent the better part of a decade as an executive at Pixar before the company was acquired by Disney, and he started his career at NeXT. Greg has spent his career both observing and as a part of high-performing, highly innovative teams.

Among the highlights of this week’s episode:

  • Greg tells the story of his first encounter with Steve Jobs during his final 10-minute interview at NeXT and the test the Apple co-founder gave Greg to see whether he would challenge Jobs’ ideas
  • We talk about how Bill Coughran, a SVP of Engineering at Google, led innovation when managing 2 different teams of engineers trying to solve a highly complex problem in different ways
  • “It’s not whose idea is right but what idea is right,” Greg says, and he shares the Steve Jobs axiom that “It’s more important to be successful than it is to be right”
  • We talk about the framework that Collective Genius lays out for building organizations with innovation embedded in their DNA
  • Greg shares a story from his days at Pixar that illustrates the importance of “psychological safety,” when a year’s worth of work on Toy Story 2 was erased, as were all the backups save for one. Watch the video embedded below for an animated version of how Toy Story 2 was almost lost by an RM* command, then saved by the film’s technical director being on maternity leave.

Listen to the Episode

Interested in hearing more? Tune in to the full episode of “The Innovation Engine” podcast below.

About The Innovation Engine

Since 2014, 3Pillar has published The Innovation Engine, a podcast that sees a wide range of innovation experts come on to discuss topics that include technology, leadership, and company culture. You can download and subscribe to The Innovation Engine on Apple Podcasts. You can also tune in via the podcast’s home on Spotify to listen online, via Android or iOS, or on any device supporting a mobile browser.