For centuries, society has attributed innovation to the ‘lone genius’. But we at The Caviar Spoon don’t believe in the power of one and we don’t think you should either. Many of our favourite and widely-known inventions are actually the results of collaborative thinking.
So where did the idea of the ‘lone genius come from? Well, for hundreds of years, we have attributed ‘genius’ to just one person. For example, Shakespeare is widely regarded as one of the greatest playwrights of all time. But, he did not typically come up with original ideas for his plays. Instead, he rewrote, borrowed, and adapted plots, characters, and language from existing pieces of work (BBC). “Romeo and Juliet” is, in fact, an adaption of a poem written by the English poet Arthur Brooke, who had based his poem on a French translation of a tale by the Italian Matteo Bandello.
Likewise, Thomas Edison, the man credited with inventing the lightbulb in 1878, was not the first person to come up with the idea. He didn’t invent the glass bulb or the glowing filament inside, he just improved on previous designs to the point where they became commercially practical. The first electric light device was developed 78 years before Edison filed his patent for the light bulb, but it didn’t last long and was far too bright. In 1850 Joseph Swan found that carbonized paper was a much better filament and used it to make lightbulbs. Eventually, Swan and Edison merged to bring the lightbulb to marker. However, people generally only remember Edison (Bulbs.com).
People being credited as ‘lone geniuses’ is not a thing of the past. It still happens throughout the business world – tech, retail, fashion. This global phenomenon is still widely believed.
Look at Steve Jobs who is credited as the genius who brought us smartphones, laptops, and digitized music. Yes, he had a strong vision and was a natural leader but he didn’t create these products on his own. He had teams of researchers, technicians, engineers, marketers, and other professionals working in tandem to bring about the innovative Apple products we associate with him.
Even more recently, when we talk about Amazon, we think of Jeff Bezos. But while Bezos had the vision, the meteoric rise of the global retailer is not solely his to claim. The brand can credit a lot of its success to the individual sellers who use Amazon collectively as a platform to reach their consumers, not to mention the 1,335,000 people employed by them across the globe.
The ‘lone genius’ myth is a commonly held misconception within the fashion industry too. In any of the world’s largest fashion houses, there is the founder who has the vision, the connection, and the initial ability to sell a dream before anyone else. However, they also employ multiple designers who help to create the season’s must-haves and a large number of talented people to put the clothes and accessories together. Take Calvin Klein, for example, who has a team of designers, including incredible talents such as Norman René Devera and Raf Simons working together to create each season’s designs.
Even in the music industry, the ‘lone genius’ myth is just a myth. Many of our favourite artists are front people for a much wider partnership of people who create well-known hits. Take Elton John who, although one of the biggest musical stars on Earth, worked consistently with his songwriter partner Bernie Taupin on some of his best hits including ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Your Song’.
So, while we like to believe the success or failure of a brand can come down to just one person, the truth is there are a great number of people who have a part to play. That’s why we need to treat brand collaboration as the ultimate advantage as we move forward into a new consumer era, where more innovation is needed, and faster than ever before.
At The Caviar Spoon, we are seeing more brands join together in collaboration, breaking down the myth of the ‘lone genius’ and mutually benefitting from what the other can provide. Take, for instance, the fashion industry’s move into gaming throughout 2020, or the strategic partnership between Uber and Spotify, or even the cross-brand promotion between Lego and Stranger Things. These brands are proving that just like the old saying, “more heads are better than one”, that more brands can often be better than one operating in siloes.
We believe it’s time to alter our perception of the ‘lone genius’ and realize that true breakthroughs and innovations happen when people come together, with a common purpose. That’s really when amazing things happen.
If you’re ready to come together with strategic innovative partners, find out more about our brand collaboration platform and book a discovery call with our team now.