Where Good Ideas Come From The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson A Pecha Kucha Presentation by Laura Comppen
What is a ‘good idea’? <ul><li>The Wheel </li></ul><ul><li>Sliced Bread </li></ul><ul><li>Toilet Paper </li></ul><ul><li>The Internet </li></ul>They’re all good ideas!!
<ul><li>Many good ideas start from old fashioned contemplation and are often inspired by nature, such as ‘Darwin’s Paradox’ - his scientific observations of coral reefs in the Keeling Islands in 1836. </li></ul>What sparks a good idea?
Some good ideas are inspired by other good ideas. <ul><li>Modern neonatal incubators were inspired by a chicken exhibit at the Paris Zoo in the late 1870’s. </li></ul>
<ul><li>In developing countries, where technology is scarce, neonatal incubators are built with automobile parts for easy and accessible repair. </li></ul>Some good ideas are influenced by culture.
<ul><li>Sandals fashioned from used tires are a true testament to human ingenuity. </li></ul>Some good ideas are recycled from old ones.
<ul><li>Scientists theorize that life on earth began as a series of molecules known as the ‘primordial soup’; which combined to form proteins, later forming the boundaries of cells - leading to the onset of human life on earth. </li></ul>Some good ideas - such as life as we know it - are borne from biology.
Good ideas can develop through the ‘adjacent possible’. <ul><li>Like a series of doors in a room, change and innovation can be ‘opened’ through the adjacent possible…ideas built upon on the present state of things. A biological example of this would be species, such as dinosaurs, evolving new bones to adapt to their environment, which ultimately led to wings and flight. </li></ul>
The ‘adjacent possible’ has its limitations. <ul><li>Although creative potential is unleashed through the ‘adjacent possible’, there is a finite number of prospects available. Think of it as the number of recipes available using only cake mix ingredients. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Insight is often inspired by contemplation with nature </li></ul><ul><li>Liquid networks are fertile ground for innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Forward thinking people interacting within high-density populations </li></ul><ul><li>True insight takes time to cultivate </li></ul><ul><li>Hunches that collide with other hunches = good ideas </li></ul>Good ideas share similar patterns.
Good ideas share similar developmental timelines. <ul><li>Twentieth century innovation followed the 10/10 rule: a decade to build a new platform, and a decade for it to find a new audience. Think AM radio, VCR’s, and cell phones. </li></ul><ul><li>Today’s time frame may be shorter. Think Facebook and YouTube. </li></ul>
Good ideas can be influenced by environment. <ul><li>Big cities foster more exploration of the adjacent possible than towns or villages. A great example of this is the Renaissance… a period of tremendous artistic and scientific growth stemming from the great minds collaborating in Venice, Florence and Genoa, the largest cities in Italy at the time. </li></ul>
A good idea develops in a network. <ul><li>Like ingredients mixing together in a recipe, a ‘liquid network’ enables the ingredients to collide and make new connections, forming a sum greater than its parts. </li></ul>Steven Johnson
<ul><li>City life enables a ‘liquid network’ - a space that allows great minds to interact, resulting in ‘information spillover’ – the liquidity of information in dense settlements. Think: cities and the Web. </li></ul><ul><li>Double-entry accounting, the cornerstone of all financial bookkeeping, was invented in the capital trade cities of Northern Italy in the 13 th century. </li></ul>Networks can produce many good ideas.
<ul><li>Hunches can be quick and instinctual; or develop over a longer period of time. </li></ul><ul><li>Important innovation is likely to take place when hunches collide with other hunches. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Darwin’s theory of natural selection began with a hunch. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>Good ideas can be intuitive.
<ul><li>Hunches, combined with serendiptous dreams can blossom into a good idea, even significant scientific discovery. </li></ul>Serendipity can play a role in developing good ideas. German chemist Kekule von Stradonitz’ dreams about Greek mythology became a basis for a revolution in organic chemistry.
<ul><li>When developing a good idea, a steady persistent accumulation of error can translate into success. In other words, being incredibly wrong can lead to being overwhelmingly right! </li></ul>Error can factor into developing good ideas.
Good ideas are built upon platforms. <ul><li>Discoveries frequently come from existing areas (platforms) and turn out many mass-appeal ideas: Early microwave technology > current Global Positioning System, or GPS - </li></ul>
<ul><li>Good ideas come from many sources, have much in common and share similar traits and timelines. But the true key of invention lies back within Darwin’s Paradox: the ability to collaborate; as this is where ideas emerge, collide, and recombine…often to great success. </li></ul>Good ideas surround us.
<ul><li>Where Good Ideas Come From </li></ul><ul><li>The Natural History of Innovation </li></ul><ul><li>by Steven Johnson </li></ul><ul><li>New York: Penguin Group </li></ul><ul><li>2010 </li></ul><ul><li>All images courtesy of Google Images </li></ul><ul><li>www.google.com </li></ul>Good ideas are inspired by postgraduate reading material.