Where Good Ideas Come From Summary 2023 - Deepstash

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Where Good Ideas Come From Summary

About Where Good Ideas Come From Book

A fascinating deep dive on innovation from the New York Times bestselling author of How We Got To Now and Unexpected Life

The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery--these are all great ideas. But where do they come from? What kind of environment breeds them? What sparks the flash of brilliance? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies that push forward our lives, our society, our culture? Steven Johnson's answers are revelatory as he identifies the seven key patterns behind genuine innovation, and traces them across time and disciplines. From Darwin and Freud to the halls of Google and Apple, Johnson investigates the innovation hubs throughout modern time and pulls out the approaches and commonalities that seem to appear at moments of originality.

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Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Both evolution and innovation thrive in collaborative networks where opportunities for serendipitous connections exist. Great discoveries often evolve as slow hunches, maturing and connecting to other ideas over time.

Where Good Ideas Don't Come From

Where Good Ideas Don't Come From

Good ideas do not – for the most part – come from inside someone’s head. Instead, they come from outside – specifically from social interaction.

A study conducted in leading research laboratories found that scientists rarely, if ever, had a flash of inspiration or eureka moment alone in the lab. Instead, ideas happen in conversation with colleagues. So want a great idea? Then go to a coffee house and talk with someone.


Ideas Come From Stuff

Good ideas don't come from thoughts or visions. Instead, they come from stuff.

Every great idea is a combination or mutation of an idea that has already been brought to life. Ideas brought to life in products that are already out there are the building blocks of innovation – not thoughts.


Adjecent Possible

Good ideas do not come from looking forward or back, rather they come from looking left and right, to what is adjacent to us. Tomorrow’s great innovations are built from the stuff of today – specifically from the things around us that can be combined into something new.

The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore them. Each new combination opens up the possibility of other new combinations.


The way you can think of good ideas

  • Creating a fertile environment (a mix of strict and relaxed areas like MIT’s Building 20 and Microsoft's Building 99) and having good people around will aid you in becoming more creative with observations and ideas.
  • Innovation follows patterns (no matter what field the idea is a part of) and it is merely a fact of exploiting these natural tendencies. Individual strengths and intelligence do play a role but there are bigger pictures that innovation can be attributed to.


more ways 😀

  • The connection of similar minds is important. You can understand how people of the same field differ in attitudes towards certain topics, this understanding can help improve on the initial idea.
  • Tires to sandals principle: Use what you’ve got because almost always that is good enough and sometimes even better (baby incubators out of automobile parts)
  • Be observant of problems around you

New ideas are just the reuse of old parts into a different combination


More ways 😅😀

  • Don’t keep thinking, start building your idea right from the get-go
  • An idea should not be a single strand, it must be a very vast and sufficiently flexible network. (Not too stiff and not too chaotic either, networks must be liquid)
  • “Spillover”: when information is shared with a new group of people sparking a chain of new ideas among the listeners. (A whole group is not smart, to begin with but individuals sharing knowledge make the group smarter)


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