Pulse : You are known for helping leaders inspire their teams to collaborate . When did you first recognize the power of innovation in workplace culture ? ERICA DHAWAN : Research has proven over and over that the romantic myth of the lone genius fails because it obscures the social , connected qualities of innovation . We can multiply our own knowledge , drive and insight “ by the power ” of others . Embracing this insight is a key aspect of getting big things done in life and work .
A case in point is the recent shift toward greater collaboration through peer-to-peer virtual communities . A few years ago , the CFO of a law firm noticed a decline in billing among their incoming associates . He discovered they had created a virtual Teams community to share information and advice about their cases . When someone had a problem or question , he or she would pose it on the forum and often immediately receive the answer from a peer . By collaborating with each other in this way , they were able to work better and far more quickly — across offices , practices and levels . For the first time ever , the firm ’ s leaders had to ask themselves , How can we learn about how to innovate faster and better ways of collaborating from our youngest employees — where horizontal collaboration is natural to them outside of in-person interactions ? Today , they have created virtual peer-to-peer communities at all levels of the firm to increase social connections . To me , innovation starts by learning from others , collaborating in new ways and taking these lessons to maximize value and impact in organizations .
Pulse : In your best-selling book Get Big Things Done , you argue that passion and luck — and even expertise and intelligence — are not enough to achieve greatness . How can forging connections allow successful leaders to accomplish synergistic goals ? D : A lot of how we measure relationships in the digital world is about quantity . How many Twitter followers ? How many Facebook likes ? My book Get Big Things Done and research shifts the focus from quantity to quality . Building relationships that actually change people ’ s lives — that create value or meaning or both — is about making the smart connections , getting the right people together , collecting the important data and using resources in the smartest way . Simply building a network doesn ’ t lead to measurable change . The key is how you use that network , and connectional intelligence describes the skill that 21st century innovators have and that we all need to develop to maximize the potential of all our connections and put them to significant use .
The story of Jeannie Peeper reminds us that forging diverse connections allows us to achieve our big things and synergistic goals . Jeannie Peeper grew up with an extremely rare disease called FOP and spent years trying to diagnose
“ TO ME , PRECIOUS STARTS BY LEARNING FROM OTHERS , COLLABORATING IN NEW WAYS ...”