Steven Johnson: 2 Things Every Innovator Needs
“Chance favors the connected mind.”
How does groundbreaking innovation happen? Steven Johnson’s fascinating tour takes us from the “liquid networks” of London’s coffee houses to Charles Darwin’s long, slow hunch to today’s high-velocity web. We need to change the way we think about innovating. It’s not like the metaphor of Newton sitting there in deep thought and then the apple drops and he realizes, “Aha!” It’s more like the chaotic environment of those old coffee houses where ideas are bumping into each other all over the place with people of all different backgrounds.
With Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson pairs the insight of his bestselling Everything Bad is Good for You and the dazzling erudition of The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World and The Invention of Air: A Story Of Science, Faith, Revolution, And The Birth Of America to address an urgent and universal question: What sparks the flash of brilliance?
Johnson concludes that with today’s tools and environment, radical innovation is extraordinarily accessible to those who know how to cultivate it. Essential reading for anyone who wants to know how to come up with tomorrow’s great ideas.
So, besides luck and time, what are the two things Johnson says innovators need?
1. A chaotic environment, preferably one with access to legal stimulants.
2. A place to exchange ideas or hunches with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, preferably with ideas or hunches of their own.
Here’s his highly regarded Ted Talk on the subject.