Where Good Ideas Come From – Steven Johnson

If you ever were curious about how innovation actually works this video is probably what you should start with:

If you found this video interesting, you definitely want to get a copy of Johnson’s awesome book “Where Good Ideas Come From”.

Johnson found, that there are re-occurring patterns which support innovation. He describes these patterns in seven chapters which there are

  1. The Adjacent Possible – New innovations more often than not take existing pieces and put them together in a new way. Each new innovation increases the space of the adjacent possible.
  2. Liquid Networks – History of innovation shows that networks support good ideas and innovation. People connecting to other people and multiple disciplines are more likely to have an innovative thought.
  3. The Slow Hunch – Great new ideas often don’t break through in a Eureka moment. Much more often they linger in the back of someone’s head and need months, sometimes years or decades to develop into something real. Liquid networks at this point can help to bring slow hunches together and then these combined slow hunches lead to a new idea.
  4. Serendipity – Sometimes great ideas come to you in unexpected moments. Johnson talks about a whole bunch of good examples in his book. Sometimes it’s just necessary to free your mind, go for a walk, watch a soccer game, go on vacation and eventually a brilliant connection will occur to you which didn’t come to your mind before.
  5. Error – Innovation is also a history of error. If you don’t want to make any error you likely will never invent anything. By making errors you learn from every single one and if you’re lucky and interpret the errors correctly you might come up with something wonderfully new.
  6. Exaptation – Exaptation is a term coming from biology. The feathers of birds, for instance, were first developed by mother nature for means of isolation. Later on however they turned out to be essential for flying. So feathers were adapted for flying. Looking at innovations of the recent centuries from the viewpoint of exaptation, you’ll find that many innovations were possible by using an existing thing in a different way.
  7. Platforms – Platforms support innovation. Platforms allow you to _not_ think about certain things and instead concentrate on the solution of the actual problem you’re trying to solve.

This is a very short summary of a great book, so I hope you got an appetite and are going to read it. You can get a copy for example at Amazon.de