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What Is the Edge Effect? How Collaborating Helps Us Thrive

December 18, 2018 Shannon Bayer

The need for more innovative thinking in today’s hyper crazed and information-rich business world increases every day. The pressure is on for us to become more efficient, more cutting edge, more…everything in order to stay current.

The great news is that we have resources at our fingertips to help us innovate every step of the way. I have experienced the work of IDEO and their amazing innovative process, worked with the concepts of disruption from Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School, and even collaborated directly with Stephen Shapiro to develop a workshop on creating an innovative culture. What I’ve discovered from studying their work is that leaders are expected to nimbly move from challenge to opportunity, and to lead their organizations forward by identifying the next big idea.

My question is: How can we do better, be better, dream bigger? How do we find the time to be creative and the wherewithal to not only ideate, but then to execute on our ideas?

As someone with experience working in leadership development, I’m a fan of workshops, consulting, and reassessing organizational design–but, I believe that it’s ultimately our personal experiences and the connections we make that empower us to be truly innovative leaders capable of driving the change that we want to see.

Let’s Look to the Science

Early on I earned a degree in animal science. So, while my career has focused largely on humans, I’m intrigued by what we can learn from animals.

In ecology, there is a concept called the “edge effect,” which describes the extraordinary explosion of biodiversity that occurs when two or more separate eco-systems overlap. New creatures, fast adapting to their environments far beyond the normal scale of evolution, suddenly exist in this overlapping “edge” area. It’s truly incredible. I was even more intrigued when I discovered that this phenomenon applies to humans as well.

Adam Galinsky, a social scientist, researches how learning about and understanding other cultures can positively affect our creativity. For example, in one study, he discovered that merely thinking about people from a different culture resulted in a higher level of creativity when tested.

Now, imagine bringing people from different backgrounds together to discuss problems and challenges in their business. Imagine the opportunities to expand your mindset and creatively problem solve new ways to get where you want to go.

This capacity for innovation and adaptation–we all have it, and we can unlock it more easily by coming together in collaboration. That is, we can achieve truly innovative thinking through the “edge effect”.

This is just one of the reasons I am so excited to be part of the launch of LinkEDGE peer groups, which are rooted in the principals of Purposeful Leadership®. These groups bring the advantages of diverse thinking and inclusion to life in a world where we must constantly strive to find innovative solutions.

Peer groups are a place where leaders from different backgrounds meet, discuss real-life business challenges, and through sharing personal experiences and different perspectives, find their own “edge effect”.

Research has shown that the most effective leaders differentiate themselves from the rest because of purpose. Purposeful Leaders drive 2X revenue growth, 4X profit growth, 9x employee engagement, and 10X Net Promoter Score. Now is your change to become more purposeful through LinkEDGE, a series of private, location-based groups of senior leaders committed to driving change.


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Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 13–16, 2023 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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