No – its not the opening of a bad joke – but instead the key to innovation according to Steven Berlin Johnson.
In his new book “Where Good ideas Come From” Johnson has taken a look at the shared properties of environments that facilitate the generation of innovative ideas.
What emerges from his investigation are the following observations:
A takes a mix of disciplines.
This provides not only diverse perspectives but complementary skill sets as wells. Gets people “out of their own box”.
Free flowing collision of ideas through conversations.
Hunches meet hunches. Coalesce into larger hunches. Which can become innovative ideas. Tends to happen over the conference room table, in the coffee bar, and not necessarily on the lab bench.
Open free exchange of ideas and technologies
Allowing open platforms for sharing across disciplines, departments and companies - instead of “protecting” – allows for fluid exchange and growth built upon existing platforms.
Time to percolate
The “Eureka” moment seems to be an illusion – and innovation is more the result of writing down hunches over time, going back with new found perspectives and reencountering earlier thoughts. Mixed liberally with new ideas, new technologies and bigger hunches they become innovative ideas. But it takes time – which is best carved out from “regular” work.
So, make it a double shot latte for me and I'll meet you at the (coffee) bar…