Author Joshua Wolf Shenk identifies qualities in creative duos that produce a dialogue of creative thinking. Drawing on academic research and historical evidence, he shows why two is the magic number. This yin and yang strength is evidenced in pairs as varied as Paul McCartney and John Lennon, Marie and Pierre Curie, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and many more.
While the book is a study in the interdependencies between people, he shares that the overwhelming influence of others in our lives does not change that Marie Curie first had the idea of radioactivity and that Wilbur Wright first had the ambition of making a flying machine, but that one creative contribution is an extension of connectivity. Shenk explains the distinct roles these creative dialectics maintain as they relate opposite each other, and that pairs thrive on distinct and enmeshed roles, becoming dichotomous in the creative process.
The book provides thought-provoking research that the best achievements emerge from direct physical interaction. In a 1980's study of a professional lab with 500 employees from the fields of physics, engineering, and computer and behavioral science, researchers within the same discipline were twice as likely to collaborate with colleagues on the same floor than with ones an elevator stop away, and researchers in separate departments who sat close together were six times more likely to collaborate with one another than with those in their own department on separate floors.
For individuals and companies, the Powers of Two reveals how creativity is strongest as a social activity and the pair is its primary contributor.
Review by Barbara Benton
PDMA Board Member