It was musician Brian Eno who first coined the phrase Scenius. Here’s what he had to say…
I was an art student and, like all art students, I was encouraged to believe that there were a few great figures like Picasso and Kandinsky, Rembrandt and Giotto and so on who sort-of appeared out of nowhere and produced artistic revolution.
As I looked at art more and more, I discovered that that wasn’t really a true picture.
What really happened was that there was sometimes very fertile scenes involving lots and lots of people – some of them artists, some of them collectors, some of them curators, thinkers, theorists, people who were fashionable and knew what the hip things were – all sorts of people who created a kind of ecology of talent. And out of that ecology arose some wonderful work.
The period that I was particularly interested in, ’round about the Russian revolution, shows this extremely well. So I thought that originally those few individuals who’d survived in history – in the sort-of “Great Man” theory of history – they were called “geniuses”. But what I thought was interesting was the fact that they all came out of a scene that was very fertile and very intelligent.
So I came up with this word “scenius” – and scenius is the intelligence of a whole… operation or group of people. And I think that’s a more useful way to think about culture, actually. I think that – let’s forget the idea of “genius” for a little while, let’s think about the whole ecology of ideas that give rise to good new thoughts and good new work.
This idea, which I think is a biblical principle, states that individuals immersed in a productive Scenius will blossom and produce their best work. We bring the best out in each other.
A productive Scenius is nurtured by several factors:
- Mutual Appreciation – It can be thought of as the best of peer pressure.
- Swift Exchange of Tools and Ideas – As people share their findings, discoveries and results Ideas flow quickly because they are flowing inside a community with common language and vision.
- Ownership of Success: When one succeeds we all succeed and that breakthrough empowers the whole scene to further success.