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Where Good Ideas Come From

Steven Johnson has spent five years looking at where good ideas come from. Contrary to the widely-held concept of a lone-creative genius with a spark of sudden inspiration (The Eureka Myth), it turns out that ideas take a long time to mature, sometimes laying dormant (in the form of 'partial hunches' or half-ideas) for years. It is the collision of these half-ideas, whether our own or from others, that enables breakthroughs to happen. Rather than being a single thing, ideas are networks, or new configurations.

Agile enterprises that understand this create and enable spaces (physical and virtual) where ideas can mingle (in the way that coffee houses did in The Enlightenment). There's been a lot of debate around whether the web is good for us. I agree with Steven Johnson:- the great driver of innovation has been the historic increase in connectivity between us that creates infinite possibilities for ideas to be swapped. Chance favours the connected mind.

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