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Monday, September 27, 2010

Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

It's no secret that collaboration helps in the formation of good ideas, but this charming little video from writer Steven Johnson explains why it works.

Here are some key points from the video:

■To identify the spaces that have historically led to unusual rates of creativity and innovation, we can observe and analyze recurring patterns in creating environments that are unusually innovative

■For instance, the slow hunch: most ground-breaking ideas don’t come in a single moment of ‘a-ha’ – they spend a lot of time dormant, in the background, until they surface into consciousness; sometimes, it takes years for the idea to become accessible and useful to you

■Good ideas spend a lot of time, even years, incubating – for instance, stemming from side projects of varying degrees of success or completion – before they can take the form of a full vision; the invention of the world wide web is a classic example

■When ideas take form in the ‘hunch’ stage, they need to collide with other hunches, which may exist in someone else’s mind; Good ideas often stem from the collision of smaller hunches

■We therefore need to create systems that will allow these independent hunches to come together in a way that exceeds the sum of their parts

■Regarding the current debate over innovation & creativity – and whether our always on, overwhelmingly informed and connected world is going to take away from those moments of quieter contemplation associated with fostering creativity – Johnson believes this is unlikely

■While it’s true we’re more distracted over the last 15 years, we also have increased possibilities to connect and collaborate with others, or to stumble onto that piece of information that may provide the the missing piece to our ‘hunch’, which may yield that ultimate idea or innovation

■The main point in analyzing where good ideas come from? Chance favors the connected mind

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  1. Tim,

    Great video. It makes me think of A Beautiful Mind where a Nobel Prize winning theory was discussed and developed over beers with friends in a bar. This video would support casual off site meetings. Thanks for sharing.


  2. I didn't have time to watch the video, but reading the summary reminded me of the book "Hot Spots: Why Some Teams, Workplaces, and Organizations Buzz with Energy-and Others Don't: How Boundaryless Cooperation Fuels Innovation" by Linda Gratton.