Posts Tagged ‘Steven Johnson’


The Process of Having Good Ideas


Some interesting leads in this Animate of Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From.” (HT: Scott Adams)

Johnson researched the process of individuals who had a famously good idea and boils it down to:

1) Have a hunch.

2) Nurture that hunch and others like it.

3) Tell a community of like-minded individuals about the hunch.

4) Collaborate.

I’m sure (or I hope, anyway) that there’s more detail in Johnson’s book because I have a lot of unanswered questions, such as where he thinks hunches come from.

But there are a lot of interesting observations here toward a better understanding of thinking:

1) A hunch is an incomplete idea.  This makes a lot of sense. A big idea relates a lot of observations and other ideas together. Gravity required understanding in great detail the motion of the planets, the observation that objects of different mass fall at the same rate, and a host of other things. If you don’t have everything, you may have the sense that the pieces fit together somehow and you have some idea of how, but you don’t actually have the idea.

2) There is intellectual value to working with others. In my work at JetBlue, we promote the goal of healthy conflict of ideas. Thinking is an act of asking and answering a lot of questions. Working with another person at very least means they’re doing some of that work for you, but more than that, they’re probably asking different questions than you and pushing your thinking into places you otherwise wouldn’t go.

Really curious to read more. I’m reading a different book now (on the creation process of designers), but maybe this is the next one.

%d bloggers like this: