My latest book, N-of-8 opens with the line, “A small group of eight people has the power to change the course of an organization – or even an entire market.”
On a larger scale, a group of leaders can change the world. And our world needs them now.
Read about the power of a “genius cluster” in Peggy Noonan’s column from The Wall Street Journal:
The leaders of the world aren’t a very impressive group right now. There’s a sense with some of them of playing out a historical or cultural string, that they’re placeholders in some way. Many are young, yet so much around them feels tired.
Which has me thinking, again, of the concept of the genius cluster. They happen in history and no one knows why. It was a genius cluster that invented America. Somehow Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, Jay and Monroe came together in the same place at the same time and invented something new in the history of man. I asked a great historian about it once. How did that happen? He’d thought about it too. “Providence,” he guessed.
There was a small genius cluster in World War II — FDR, Churchill, de Gaulle. I should note I’m speaking of different kinds of political genius. There was a genius cluster in the 1980s — John Paul II, Reagan, Thatcher, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Lee Kuan Yew in his last decade of leadership in Singapore.
The military genius cluster of World War II — Marshall, Eisenhower, Bradley, Montgomery, Patton, MacArthur, Nimitz, Bull Halsey, Stilwell — almost rivaled that of the Civil War — Grant, Lee, Stonewall, Sherman, Sheridan, Longstreet.
Obviously genius clusters require deep crises, otherwise their gifts are not revealed. Historic figures need historic circumstances. Also members of genius clusters tend to pursue shared goals.
We have those conditions now — the crises, and what should be shared goals.
Everything feels upended, the old order that has governed things for 70 years since World War II being swept away. Borders have disappeared before our eyes. Terrorism, waves of immigration transforming whole nations, Islam at war with itself and parts of it at war with the world. In the West, the epochal end of public faith in institutions, and a dreadful new tension between the leaders and the led. In both background and foreground is a technological revolution that has actually changed how people experience life.
It is a world crying out for bigness, wisdom, steady hands and steady eyes.
We could use a genius cluster.