Steven Johnsonshares his quest on the discovery of where exactly good ideas are born. Are they really individual EUREKA moments or do they come from an architecture of space where people get together from different backgrounds and fields of expertise and share?
During his venture, he examined different environments like biological environments (e.g. coral reefs), the World Wide Web and history of the first cities and tried to figure out the recurring patterns that can be applied to our lives today.
If we are trying to build organizations that are innovative, we have to have environments he calls ‘liquid environments‘ where we have lots of different ideas that come together, from different backgrounds, with different interests, working together and finally leading to innovation. He gives an example of a researcher, Kevin Dunbar, who recorded a number of science labs around the world trying to figure out where most break-through ideas happened. Dunbar realized all the ideas did not happen in the lab in front of a microscope, they happened at the conference table ; at weekly lab meetings when everybody got together and shared their latest finding and the mistakes made.
He also argues that we often talk about the value of protecting ideas through intellectual property rights, having secretive R&D labs etc… but we should spend at least as much time valuing the premises of connecting ideas and not just protecting them. A great example given is that of the power of open innovation systems with the birth of the GPS market. 30 years after being opened to the public, it is now a technology that sits in most people’s pockets, cars and more.
Enjoy the video as we did: http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_johnson_where_good_ideas_come_from#t-343176