Powers of Two by Joshua Wolf Shenk

Powers of Two

A revelatory synthesis of cultural history and social psychology that shows how one-to-one collaboration drives creative success Weaving the lives of scores of creative duos—from John Lennon and Paul McCartney to Marie and Pierre Curie to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak—Joshua Wolf Shenk identifies the core qualities of that dizzying experience we call "chemistry." Revealing the six essential stages through which creative intimacy unfolds, Shen...


Details Powers of Two

TitlePowers of Two
ISBN9780544031593
Author
Release DateAug 5th, 2014
PublisherEamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
LanguageEnglish
GenreNonfiction, Business, Psychology, Science
Rating

Reviews Powers of Two

  • Trish
    1970-01-01
    Joshua Wolf Shenk, celebrated author of the New York Times Notable Book Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness, has a new book due out August 5 which focuses on the power of creative pairs. Using a number of compelling examples, Shenk posits that exceptional creativity is not the outcome of an individual mind, but requires the interaction of two minds. He will argue that three people change the creat...
  • David
    1970-01-01
    I should say from the start that I never really wanted to read a light psychology/sociology book, so I came at this with some initial hostility and that may have influenced my reaction. However, it was a book club selection so I'd already paid for it and read it anyway. Really, the main insights seemed to be obvious. Yeah, no matter how solitary a particular act of creation is, no human being is ever totally separate. But, is that a revelation? T...
  • mitchell k dwyer
    1970-01-01
    I reviewed this book for RMA, an executive search firm I write for, and my review in its entirety is here. The gist of my feeling boils down to these three paragraphs:By itself, this approach would make a fascinating book if that were all it aspired to, as Shenk applies his metaphors to the likes of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Graham Nash and David Crosby, Alfred Hitchcock and a few of his leading ladies, and other less-obvious creative pairs. ...
  • JQAdams
    1970-01-01
    I don't know that I'd previously ever thought, while reading a book, "Wow, this author needs a hug." But between his Lincoln's Melancholy, which I'd previously read, and the introduction to this, where Shenk talks about the difficulty of forging a connection with other human beings, it's hard not to feel some sympathy.Not that that stopped me from finding this book exasperating. Shenk is theoretically trying to discover the key to successful coll...
  • Brad Mclaws
    1970-01-01
    This guy makes an interesting contribution to the literature on innovation. He argues that innovation is not optimized in a single lone genius or the power of group (or crowds) but rather in the unique combination of two humans interacting. It rings true. At first he digs into the creative interplay that happens between a couplet. Interestingly this is also one of the best explanations for why an intimate relationship (like a marriage) is an idea...
  • Shhhhh Ahhhhh
    1970-01-01
    Revolutionary work on the true nature of accomplishment. I agree with the authors in thinking insufficient work has been done on group flow (or pair flow) and group cognition in the creation of any idea or product. While the lone genius idea has congruence with our culture's general worldview, all the creative foundation works that I've come across advocate even people intent on being lone geniuses to get their work out into the world so that the...
  • Michael Battistone
    1970-01-01
    Overall, a good book which was well worth the time to read, as it introduced me to a new way of thinking about creativity and productivity across a range of contexts. I would have rated it higher, through a couple of things struck me: 1) he touched on Martin Buber's "I and Thou" (ironically(?) a book I just finished reading)--even using an excerpt as the introduction to his preface--but never developed the powerful connection between his ideas of...
  • Jessica
    1970-01-01
    I really enjoyed the first 75% of the book which analyzed different types of creative pairs and the friction between them. Much of the book is spent delving into the dynamic of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but there were also many other examples in the realm of business, art and sports. The last chapter about break-ups of said creative pairs was almost depressing enough for me to want to avoid being a part of one of these kind of partnerships ...
  • Siobahn Oliver
    1970-01-01
    Loved this book and it was interesting to learn the dynamics of a few of the most creative pairs in modern history. Particularly enjoyed the Lennon/McCartney chapter. Theirs is a brilliantly creative relationship, which you can tell in their music, but learning the much deeper and at times less fortunate aspects of their pairing gave me a new appreciation for their gift. This book helps prove that people can be great on their own, but can reach n...
  • Eleanor
    1970-01-01
    I can't remember who recommended this exploration of the functioning of creative pairs (such as Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and Paul McCartney and John Lennon). The most fun part of it for me was reading about the Lennon-McCartney relationship. I also enjoyed the author's commentary at the end about the difficulty of writing a book.
  • Trish
    1970-01-01
    Shenk romanticizes collaboration to an almost swoomy extent, but he starts to weave a stories with the anecdotes dabbled with psychology and I it's too interesting to stop reading. He gets into different roles and behaviors and illustrates them well. It's a good psycho-history, and if you ever had a creative pairing, you might see a little of yourself in it. I loved the line " We could take any old street and make it our Abby Road."
  • Grace Marshall
    1970-01-01
    Thoughtful and interesting exploration of creativity and collaboration. Not a how to book but plenty of food for thought. Love the attention to detail with words too.
  • Bookdoc
    1970-01-01
    Excellent book about how symbiotic relationships make the world better.
  • Stacey Farley
    1970-01-01
    Fantastic book! Really great insights - highly recommend!
  • Doug Bernard
    1970-01-01
    The epilogue contains the most profound content: it provides an incredibly valuable framework for both discovering and navigating the relationship dynamics between creative collaborators.
  • Clay
    1970-01-01
    Interesting theory, great vignettes that illustrate the theory, probably twice as long as it needed to be.
  • Jesus
    1970-01-01
    a fascinating collection of anectdotes about a wide assortment of creative pairs...Lennon and McCartney, Vincent and Theo Van Gogh, Trey and Matt Parker, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, etc. The book makes more observations than draws persuasive conclusions. But it is cool to read about the push-pull dynamics that led to some of the most influential creative work of the modern era, and made each in the pair better than he or she could have ever bee...
  • John Gorman
    1970-01-01
    Pining for some creative juice? Want to know how to become the next Sergey Brin or Trey Parker? Get in line. You will not find the magic mojo to unleash your inner artist, but you will come away with a more elaborate understanding of how creative pairs work.Powers of Two takes a comprehensive look at the dynamics behind creative pairs. Go ahead and chuck any fruity notions you may have about creative pairs, tangoing to Astor Piazzolla. On the oth...
  • Ben McFarland
    1970-01-01
    Powers of Two has a fascinating premise and a wide, interdisciplinary reach -- but in the end, I'm not convinced that it's any more than a museum collection of good examples.The fascinating premise is that the primary unit of human creativity is not the Great Man or the Great Society, but what I'll call the "Great Dyad" of a pair of people relating. One of the great joys of the book is seeing the huge range of examples that Shenk gives to support...
  • Victoria Waddle
    1970-01-01
    The Powers of Two insists that the most creative grouping is pairs. Author Joshua Wolf Shenk uses lots of famous folks to make the point. There’s Paul McCarthy and John Lennon, of course. They appear throughout the book as examples. There are also Marie and Paul Curie, and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Less famously ‘known-as-pairs’ pairs appear as well--business partners Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are one intriguing pair. We know Bu...
  • Elizabeth
    1970-01-01
    Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs (Hardcover) by Joshua Wolf Shenk from the libraryTOCPrelude xiiiIntroduction: 1 + 1 = Infinity xvPart I. Meeting1. “You Remind Me of Charlie Munger” Matchups and Magnet Places2. Identical Twins from the Ends of the Earth The Convergence of Homophily and Heterophily3. “Like Two Young Bear Clubs” The Varieties of Electric ExperiencePart II. Confluence4. Presence → Conf...
  • Virginia
    1970-01-01
    Fascinating look at how famous pairs of allies, colleagues, and even competitors, spur one another to heights neither could have reached alone. The first half of the book, delineating the relationships of giants like McCartney and Lennon, Theo and Vincent Van Gogh, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, was absorbing and taught me many things I did not know, both about the dynamic and about ways that individual pairs are unique -- and qualities that many...
  • Lizpeveto
    1970-01-01
    An explanation of how the dynamics or synergy between two opposite creative personalities are able to work together to accomplish more than the individual. Usually an alpha personality will act as a magnet against the beta personality allowing a new dynamic bonding the two into one. Usually the results of the two creators are groundbreaking, historic discoveries and innovations, which can include the spectrum from science to music. He includes so...
  • Barry
    1970-01-01
    This book started out very promisingly; however, I feel that the way the author presents his arguments in this book is extremely confusing, disjointed and very anecdotal. I do agree with the main premise of the book: that creativity is a result of collaboration between two strong and creative individuals who can complement each other. Unfortunately, in many instances, the author jumps from one example of a creative pair into another, which makes ...
  • Scott Wozniak
    1970-01-01
    Creating great ideas, from science to art, is often believed to be the work of a lone genius. Or people argue that greatness emerges from a network, an environment that stimulates brilliance. But this author says that when you look closer, you find that a great majority of times this work is the result of pairs. It could be an obvious pair, like Jobs and Wozniak founding Apple or an unrecognized pair, like how Van Gogh's brother did far more than...
  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
    1970-01-01
    The premise of Powers of Two is at both counter-intuitive as well as irresistible. Author Joshua Shenk says the myth of the lone genius is over, there's no such thing. Not only do most people work better with other people rather than alone, even those working alone are actually building on what others built/discovered/created before them. Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Darwin, none of them was working in a vacuum. They were building on previous...
  • Ralph
    1970-01-01
    This was an enjoyable book, full of interesting tidbits about how many famous people often had an unnamed and uncredited silent collaborator, as well as insights and observations about many famous couples. There was a concentration on Lennon and McCartney, which was fine for illustrative purposes since almost everyone is familiar with their work.I liked the author's classification of the pair relationship into different phases. I think he made a ...
  • Sanjeev
    1970-01-01
    This book explores what makes a pair creative in a variety of areas: Warren Buffett & Charles Munger in finance; Paul Mccartney & John Lennon in music; Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak in computers; James Watson & Francis Crick in science; Daniel Kahnemann & Amos Traversky in psychology and economics; Matt Stone & Trey Parker in TV; JR Tolkien & CS Lewis in literature and so on.The it looks on invisible and behind the scene partnerships like Gandhi & M...
  • Uwe Hook
    1970-01-01
    Yin and yang: two forces that act against together to find a balance. In the Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative, Shenk looks at historically successful pairs and what aspects of their personalities and abilities contributed to their successes (and sometimes some spectacular failures). It's an interesting read, partially because we often are drawn to others "like" us, which means we may not have the necessary friction to ...