Where Good Ideas Come from

In teaching Innovation, I go over many videos, articles, lectures, notes, etc. Students often ask, how can they identify problems to solve, or how to get ideas. I invariably guide them to this beautiful video by Steven Johnson, who also has a book of the same title. There isn’t a fountain of ideas that you can drink from. Its only your hard work and preparation that lets good ideas bubble up to you. Certainly as Louis Pasteur noted, chance favors the prepared mind.

Some of the key points Steven Johnson identifies are:
1. There is no Eureka moment. It’s the slow hunch that gestates over long periods, sometime even decades before the solution reveals itself in the Eureka moment.

2. Social Interactions: He mentions the coffee bars and social clubs as places to meet a diverse group of people, facilitating an healthy exchange of ideas. It is this testing, tearing down and building-up of ideas that permit better ideas to sprout.

3. Spaces: Serendipity happens in physical spaces facilitating interactions with people and ideas. In these times of broadband connectivity, interactions can happen virtually, increasing opportunities for sharing and swapping ideas/ hunches, thus accelerating creativity and innovation.

Please share your learning points on this video.

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