"Where Good Ideas Come From"

I just completed reading the book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. An extremely well written book with very acute analysis of the genesis and life cycle of innovation and ideas. The book is one of most technical reader friendly books, especially if you are into software development you’ll find nodding your head more than once while you are reading the book. The book draws some interesting parallels between innovations across different sciences and technology domains, from Darwin’s evolutionary theory to gutenberg’s printing machine to innovation of WWW to meteoric raise of twitter as platform.

The basic premise of the book is that the ideas are not born like “eureka” moments as popularized in culture, but they start as slow hunches and take time to develop. And through various transformations ideas cross boundaries of the domains and help an innovation in a completely separate domain. By analyzing different innovation’s histories, the author also provides suggestions on how to create environments that encourage innovation and cultivates ideas.

Here’s one interesting paragraph from the book about Apple’s innovation:

All the groups [at Apple] – design, manufacturing, engineering, sales – meet continuously through the product-development cycle, brainstorming, trading ideas and solutions, strategizing over the most pressing issues, and generally keeping conversation open to a diverse group of perspectives. The process is noisy and involves far more open-ended and contentious meetings than traditional product cycles – and far more dialogue between people versed in different disciplines, with all the translation difficulties that creates. But the results speak for themselves.

Clearly this is what goes wrong with most of the software companies the gap between the different groups like sales, engineering and of course management.

A must-read book for anyone who’s interested in the whole “knowledge business”.

Update: Here’s talk by the Author’s TED Talk (Thanks to Ferny!)

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