Read and Learn: Where Good Ideas Come From

I recently finished Where Good Ideas Come From by Stephen Johnson, which focuses on the history of innovation. One of his interesting points is that despite the language we use to discuss inventions and innovations (the “aha” moment, the light bulb coming on, the lone scientist toiling away in his lab), most significant innovations actually result from groups of people thinking over long periods of time. One innovation or realization opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Johnson calls these new possibilities the “adjacent possible.”

This book encourages innovators to read extensively and take notes or journal ideas. In several of the scenarios Johnson shares, innovators mulled over an idea for years before finally hearing or reading something that filled in the gaps in the idea. Innovators in any industry would do well to form habits that encourage these types of long-term thinking and reflection.