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Steven Johnson Knows Where Good Ideas Come From

This month’s book club selection was a double whammy for me: good reading and good for business.  The title–Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation–intrigued me when my friend proposed it and the timeline she issued us was a challenge. The book was only released around Oct 5th so we had to order it and read it within 3 weeks.   We all said yes and off we were.

Johnson does for innovation what Gladwell did for success: shows us all the evidence of what needs to stack up to create good ideas.   His concepts like “the adjacent possible”, “liquid networks”, and “the slow hunch” made for great book club discussion (7 present liked the book and one hated it).  Read it yourself if you are intrigued by the topic.  And if you just want tips on how to be innovative, I share with you the book’s conclusion (without all the technical rationale):

Go for a walk, cultivate hunches, write everything down, but keep your folders messy; embrace serendipity, make generative mistakes, take on multiple hobbies, frequent coffeehouses and other liquid networks; follow the links, let others build on your ideas, borrow, recycle, reinvent. Build a tangled bank.

And remember, “Chance favours the connected mind“.

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P.S. Widely read blogger, Penelope Trunk, recently wrote  “people sometimes complain to me that I have too many links to random stuff, and mostly I think, ‘Just don’t click on the links if you don’t like it’.” Well said Penelope!  If you you happen to be in D.C. on November 11th, you can meet her in person at the Brazen Careerist party.

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