Some books about innovation revolve around the idea that a small number of amazingly smart individuals have had Eureka moments, leading to extraordinary breakthroughs that changed the course of civilization. “We have a natural tendency to romanticize breakthrough innovations,imagining momentous ideas transcending their surroundings…But ideasare works of bricolage…We take the ideas we’ve inherited or that we’vestumbled across, and we jigger them together into some new shape.” ( Steven Johnson)
The Eureka moment came when thegreat thinker realized that his floatingbody “displaced”, or pushed aside onlythe quantity of water that would have aweight to equal his own. The Decision to start Microsoft, for example, wasn’t based on a momentous flash of insight. It was based on incremental developments in a nascent personal computing industry.
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched theworld’s first satellite, known as Sputnik.This changed the course of world historyand led the United States, their chief rival inthe Space Race, to mount a massive effort ofits own to put manned craft in orbit andland a man on the moon.
They realized that Sputniks signal washigher on approach of the satellite and loweras the satellite had passed over and wasmoving away from them, because ofDoppler effect.As we could draw the orbit of the satellite ofunknown location, from a known place onthe ground. We can identify the position ofan unknown earth signal by a knownposition satellite.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) isa space-based satellite navigation systemthat provides location and time informationin all weather, anywhere on or near theEarth. The first GPS satellite was launched in1978. It was essentially experimental, but in1983 President Ronald Reagan brought theproject to civilian use after a Korean airlinerwas shot down after it accidentally enteredSoviet airspace.
Adjacent Possible “It’s the idea that what is achievable today is defined by thevarious combinations of events and activities that have occurredprior.” Stuart Kauffman American scientist For example, in the 1870s, a French doctor, Stephane Tarnier, saw incubators for chicken hatchlings at the Paris Zoo and hired the zoo’s poultry-raiser to build incubator boxes for premature newborns at his hospital. Other hospitals at the time were using devices to keep babies warm, but Tarnier was the first to conduct research showing how incubators significantly reduced the infant mortality rate, leading to their widespread use in Paris and beyond.
How to develop good ideas?● Liquid Network● Serendipity● Slow hunches● Error● Noise● Exaptations
Liquid Network Being flexible enough to facilitate dynamic connections between good ideas, but structured enough to support and hold them● Not so rigid that ideas can’t grow and develop● Not so much space where ideas can’t reacheach other.● Free flow of ideas allows ideas to connect,grow, reconnect with others.● Liquid networks complete ideas.
SerendipitySerendipity or what Johnson calls “happy accidents”● You have to set out in good faith for elsewhere and lose you bearings serendipitously.● Go for a walk, take a shower/bath – remove yourself from the problem● According to NYTimes, web has pushed culture toward more serendipitous collisions.
It took Joseph Priestley, an 18th century scientist, 20 years to conclude that plants create oxygen. (Priestly first had an inkling when, as a child, the spiders he trapped in glass jars died.)The core pieces of Charles Darwin’s theory of naturalselection were articulated in his notebooks morethan a year before he seemed to fully grasp theirsignificance and published them
Slow Hunch● Hunch that developed over time is more common than suddenflash of inspiration.● Have to keep hunch alive.● Keep a journal or commonplace book and review it to refreshyour hunch.● Sleeping on the problem actually helps
ErrorPenicillinFlemings accidental discovery and isolationof penicillin in September 1928 marks thestart of modern antibiotics.
Noise● Albert Einstein has been considered the patron saint of usefulmessiness, and once stated “The cluttered desk signs a clutteredmind; what does an empty desk sign?”
Exaptation● Defined as using a feature or structure for something other than itsoriginal intended purpose.● Ex. In Indonesia, Timothy Prestero redesigned neonatal incubators outof automobile parts because the locals had access to and knowledge ofautomobile engines.