Photo Credit: via Creative Commons (CC) license .

Photo Credit: via Creative Commons (CC) license.

Here’s a look at a resource we find useful to leaders in our industry.  It’s one of the many that have caught our eye.  What resources do you use to expand your knowledge? Share your resources with us!


The AIA Leadership Institute blog has a selection of links to leadership focused TED talks. There are presentations that last not more than fifteen minutes, and each is a treasure trove of ideas.  

As most of you know, TED is a global phenomenon of ideas sharing that started as a conference on technology, entertainment and design. Communities around the world hold TED events and the talks are contributed to an internet database dedicated to ever greater access to ideas, for free. It’s a worthy pursuit to add a few TED talks to your repertoire of learning and entertainment, just as you may do with a newspaper, social media site or television series. 

One of these thought-provoking TED talks is “How to Manage for Collective Creativity”, a talk by Linda Hill.  Hill is a Harvard professor that has studied creative companies and developed tools and tactics for any organization to have healthy and robust creativity. 

In discussing the creative process at Pixar, Hill states that “No solo genius, no flash of inspiration makes those movies.” A three-second clip of a Pixar film may take months to refine, with a team of hundreds. 

“At the heart of innovation is a paradox. You have to release the talents and innovations of many people.” She expresses findings that innovation occurs in three major categories of creativity. She recognizes design thinking and its interesting combination of scientific method and the artistic process. Learning through experimentation. She talks about being the “social” architect – “creating space where people are willing and able to share and combine their talents and passions.” 

Another jewel is a quick, three-minute talk called “How to Start a Movement” by Derek Sivers.  Sivers explains that in a certain instance of leadership, the first follower becomes the more influential leader. “The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.” Then he observes that as more people join a movement, it’s less risky. As a leader, you must nurture the followers so that it’s clearly about the movement and not you. Encourage others to follow by being a follower yourself. There is an interesting twist to this talk, which you should experience for yourself. 

While there are many architects featured in TED talks, their presentations tend to focus on design process and innovation.  It’s arguable that the act of public speaking is a form of leadership, but it’s time for architects to speak about our collaborative and inspiring processes we use every day. Let’s get inspired by the leadership TED talks and make your next conversation about leadership.

You can check out the TED talks on our blog here.






Ian Merker , AIA LEED AP BD+C Architect

Ian Merker, AIA LEED AP BD+C