I am very amused by the life and propagation of the term “scenius.” It’s a word that was coined by the musician, Brian Eno, to describe what he called a “communal form of the concept of genius.” It is, in effect, a serendipitous amplification of the benefits of collaboration generated by some very special characteristics of talent and environment.
We had first commented on our interest in scenius in an earlier post, “scenius and workplace genius,” considering the application of its principles in the domain of workspace design and, especially, “creation spaces.” We also discussed there the resonance of the idea in other contexts and precedents. Now, Steven Johnson, exploring the origins of good ideas, has a recent column in the Financial Times also presenting and discussing the concept.
Johnson reflects on his experience in New York both watching the birth of ideas as well as starting up his own commercial ventures. In his examination, there are at least these six factors that characterize an environment that might possibly lead to scenius –
- A healthy and supportive community of risk-takers
- Visionary programs and people in local educational institutions
- Physical density
- Shared spaces…and shared people
- Places that support casual conversation and information spillover
- Multi-dimensional diversity in networks
Johnson is the author of a recently published book on innovation, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.
[Image: Breakers by Phil Kirkwood via pictory.com]