Weekly Thoughts

Islands in a lake

Group Effort

We have been on a bit of a Walter Isaacson kick lately and recently enjoyed reading The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution which explores the birth of the computer age.  Somewhat surprisingly, the book isn’t really about computers; it’s actually about the innovative power of teamwork.  Isaacson himself noted

“The tale of their teamwork is important because we don’t often focus on how central that skill is to innovation. There are thousands of books celebrating people we biographers portray, or mythologize, as lone inventors. I’ve produced a few myself. Search the phrase ‘the man who invented’ on Amazon and you get 1,860 book results. But we have far fewer tales of collaborative creativity, which is actually more important in understanding how today’s technology revolution was fashioned. It can also be more interesting.”

We appreciate the sentiment.  While we’re not pioneering the next tech revolution, we do hope to empower leaders, grow businesses, support communities, challenge industry norms, and help business owners enjoy well-deserved retirement.  There is plenty to do, and it’s not always easy, but we enjoy it thanks to the company we keep.  Our teammates inspire us.  They pick us up when we need it most.  They make us laugh.  And they get things done.  We’re surely biased, but we believe Chenmark has an extraordinary group of individuals.  But individual talent alone only goes so far.  With seven billion people out there, it’s hard to stand out.  Again, from The Innovators: 

“The main lesson to draw from the birth of computers is that innovation is usually a group effort, involving collaboration between visionaries and engineers, and that creativity comes from drawing on many sources.  Only in storybooks do inventions come like a thunderbolt, or a lightbulb popping out of the head of a lone individual.”

Certainly, there are outliers in every domain, such as Alan Turing, John von Neumann, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Larry Page, to name a few.  However, none of those outliers did it alone.  For every Jobs, there is a Woz; for every Gates, an Allen.  Those duos weren’t alone either.  Some may steal the spotlight more than others, but in reality, most breakthroughs are accomplished as a team.  The digital age didn’t arrive on the back of any one individual. 

Alone, we have blind spots, harbor biases, or miss weaknesses.  Together, we can complement one another.  Individual outliers are rare, but symbiotic combinations are even more so.  A combination of unique, talented individuals can be greater than the sum of its parts.  The whole can, to borrow from Steve Jobs, put a dent in the universe.  Fortunately, we don’t need to change the universe or aspire to be the subject of the next Isaacson biography.  At the moment, we’re just focused on making sure we bring in a great intern class. 

Who knows where the journey will take us from here.  What we do know is that we will enjoy it because of the people on the journey with us.  And if the computer revolution is any indication, we’ll get a lot further together than we would alone.

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

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