Ideas don’t happen overnight

We all understand the importance of innovation and creativity. And most of us believe that creativity or innovation happens over a flash or a spark but according to the author none of them are described as an ‘idea’. He believes that an idea follows a pattern. The book ‘Where good ideas come from’ is a fascinating journey of discovery and inspiration narrated with references to history and environment to nurture good ideas.

What does the book cover?

The author in the book shares seven pattern of innovation in a form of seven chapter, dedicating each chapter to the theme highlighting the discoveries and case studies of the interesting innovations from the era of Renaissance to scientific breakthrough to the emergence of technology and social media. The mind expanding ideas highlighted in the book will give you a perspective to generate innovative ideas.

The seven key principles or patterns of innovation identified are

  1. The adjacent possible – pattern of small steps to progress instead of looking at a giant leap
  2. Liquid Networks – connections and interactions, how they play a role in innovation
  3. The slow hunch – incremental innovation with shared knowledge
  4. Serendipity – random encounters that makes sense
  5. Error – mistakes that become a success
  6. Exaptation – adaptation from another thought or idea
  7. Platforms – an innovation that produces more innovation

Each pattern is explained well in detail with theories and concepts which encourages you to think alongside revealing certain secrets of how to be innovative

Three interesting takeways for me but certainly recommend you to read the book for comprehensive understanding of the concepts

  • Ideas don’t happen overnight, they take a long time like what the author calls in the book a ‘slow hunch’ into an innovation
  • Ideas advance in small steps, there are many minds working on the idea rather than one individual
  • Collaborations and connections bring out the best ideas and blocking those ideas with patents by companies and R&D team blocks innovation and creativity

What’s in it for me?

The principles explained are very simple and can be followed together or in isolation in your personal life or at work.  However, each chapter could have been shorter to keep the content engaging.

My recommendation

Steven Johnson is the author of the US bestsellers The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, Everything Bad Is Good For You and Mind Wide Open and Emergence and Interface Culture. Where Good Ideas Come is another intellectual genius from the author. It is not a marketing or communication book but a book to understand how to get more innovative and creative, what are the elements and environment one needs to come up with a creative idea?

Highly recommend this book to someone who is keen to explore and understand the complex human minds and also the science behind innovation and creativity.

P.S: And if you are curious to know about previous innovations, at the end of the book key innovations from 1400 to 2000 is listed for you.


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarika Chavan
Sarika Chavan is a public relations professional with over 15 years of work experience . She is currently working at Adfactors PR.

Previously she was employed at Text100 (now Archetype) and Perfect Relations. With keen observation and analytical skills, Sarika has successfully led PR campaigns for key brands across multiple sectors by leveraging her strength and expertise in the communications arena.

She is a post graduate in communications from Xavier Institute of Communications. She is based in Mumbai and in her free time loves to spend time with her daughters, play with her dogs, read and travel.

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