Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

4.2/5, 4.2 from 11 reviews
Steven Johnson
1594485380 (ISBN13: 978-1594485381)
Buy from Amazon
The Natural History of Innovation.

Recent Reviews

  1. Ariah
    Worth the time invested
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Oct 24, 2018
    I happened to hear a TED talk given by the author, Steven Johnson and that is when I first became acquainted with this book of his, Where Good Ideas come From. I definitely recommend listening to this TED talk of his, if you have 20 minutes to spare.

    In this book, the author says that many people imagine the advent of new innovations in a very wrong manner. And I think he is right! If I am asked to imagine the way in which a new product is invented, my mind would picture a scientist working alone in his lab without caring to eat or drink and suddenly having his Eureka moment.

    But in this book, the author says that it is not the case most of the time. According to him, it is not a lone person working all the time to get closer to an invention or it is not just one moment that brings about a new invention; it is in fact a culmination of many such EUREKA moments put together that finally brings about a new innovation.

    This book changed my entire perspective along with giving me new information on how people come up with different innovations. If this topic interests you too just like how it does for me, then I would surely recommend this book to you.
  2. noodge
    Not good enough
    3/5, 3 out of 5, reviewed Oct 15, 2018
    I think this book could have been aptly titled, “where good ideas die” because that is exactly what the book does. When I bought the book, I expected it to be something that takes me back in time to innovations of various era and how the initial researches and inventions helped in new inventions.

    But the book is entirely different from what you expect it to be. I would call it a bad cross between a self-help book on how one can be more inventive and a business handbook which tells you how to foster new ideas. But at the end, it failed to do both.

    I would have given it a miserable rating if I had not liked the part where he beautifully explains the concept of “slow hunch”. In it he says that not all innovations have a Eureka moment and most innovations occur when a slow hunch has reached adequate maturity by colliding with other good ideas. He also goes on to say that innovations can also be a cross pollination between different fields.

    So, just because I loved this particular part of the book and the way it has been exquisitely explained, I have given it a 3 star rating, else I feel it doesn’t deserve more than 1.5 stars.
  3. Sabit
    I loved this
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Oct 3, 2018
    I am someone who simply loves all kinds of origin stories and I definitely have a soft corner for those which tell me about the history behind various innovations. If it is something that I use in my day to day life, I am all the more very interested. Well, basically what I mean to say is interesting inventions interest me whether I use it or not.

    And this book is completely about that. I also loved the appendix at the end where the author had made efforts to give some short notes about various inventions as well as discoveries from The Middle Ages till now. So, even though I felt what the author had written went straight above my head, I would still like to give it a 5-star rating because it is simply out of the world.
  4. SmartGeek
    Perfect book for me
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 29, 2018
    I feel blessed to have read this book, maybe because I am someone ho takes keen interest on innovations and how they came to be. And this book gives you the perfect insightful survey of those elements that make an innovation or an invention or even a discovery possible.

    The author’s style of writing the book shows that he has collected his ideas from various sources and not just one and done an excellent job organizing it into a nice framework. The book is divided into seven chapters but all of them ultimately says the same thing – new ideas flourish best when they are allowed to flow through a network and come in contact with each other.

    Most of the statements that the author makes are self evident and when they are not, he has greatly backed them up with case studies.

    So, definitely a must have for those who are interested in innovations.
  5. BullFrog
    A blessing for a creative person
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 27, 2018
    I was gifted this book on my birthday by a very good friend who always knew the passion I had for books related to innovations and creativity. And I would say this is the best book I have read on this topic so far.

    It is a very fascinating book and I would recommend it to anyone who is even interested in knowing about different kind of innovations and how they evolved over a period of time.

    He talks about the similarities in formation of ideas starting from Darwin’s theory of evolution to the current day internet and facebook. I found the author’s writing to be compelling, tight and engaging and loved the fact that he urges his readers to contemplate and incorporate his ideas in their daily life.

    I found it extremely difficult to pull away and I am most certainly going to start re-reading the book again so that I understand those concepts which I did not completely get during the first time.
  6. Izaiah
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 18, 2018
    I enjoyed reading this book and especially because I am a scientist myself, I completely appreciate his treatment of collaborative kind of ideas on inventions. I most certainly know that in majority of the cases a new innovation is not necessarily a lone man’s effort in a lab.

    One needs to know and understand that in reality things lie much beyond that. Many of the best and most innovative ideas that science has seen have mostly come out of collaborations and is the effort of many people combining different kinds of ideas from different fields.

    And the way in which this concept has been explained by the author to the common man made me fall for this book.
  7. mayhem
    One of the best books on innovation
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 9, 2018
    I like this book and lot and I consider it to be one of the best books any author has written on innovations. Steven Johnson has very cleverly established the connections between technological and biological patterns that paved way for creation of innovative environments.

    The illustrations given in the book are also very vivid and memorable that helps a reader retain the different concepts in a very easy manner.

    Below is the crux of this book in points:

    1. Adjacent Possible - Good ideas are built from a collection of existing parts, and the following six patterns assemble a wider variety of spare parts.
    2. Platforms – Creation of a conducive environment where different kinds of thoughts can productively come together and recombine to give a new innovation.
    3. Liquid Networks - To create a new good idea, the environment needs to be filled with old ideas but capable of adopting new configurations at the same time.
    4. The Slow Hunch - Good ideas are a series of small hunches that come together over a period of time
    5. Serendipity - Hunches require different environments where new surprising connections can be forged as time passes.
    6. Error - Innovations often come from unexpected results because error creates a path out of your comfort zone and fills your mind wrong assumptions.
    7. Exaptation - Taking one idea for an entirely different purpose: recombining, often through diverse, horizontal social networks where you act as a bridge between those tight clusters.
  8. quinzee
    A must read
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 23, 2018
    The book has been successful in destroying the most common notion of innovations – It comes to a few hardworking lone scientists toiling their precious years in a secret lab. So now if someone tells you that, you can immediately ask them to read this book so that their misunderstanding about making an invention gets cleared.

    The author nails it when he says that the major chunk of our best ideas come through years of hard work and hunches, sharing and collaborating information from various fields and working together.

    I would say it’s a great read for a person with good creativity.
  9. TREY
    A great read
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 18, 2018
    At first, Where Good Ideas Come From seemed to be a kind of book to me where the concept is something short which can be explained in minimum number of pages and the rest of the book to be filled with anecdotes and crappy references that the author comes up with to mint money.

    But when I got down to reading the book, I realized I had made a completely wrong assumption about the book. It is one short book, if you ask me and it is really short if you don’t count the number of pages the appendix has occupied.

    And Johnson has efficiently divided the book into some seven amazing points related to innovation that are worth pondering and interesting at the same time.

    The anecdotes were used in the book along with illustrations which made reading the book all the more an enjoyable process. I wouldn’t call the book a classic but I can assure that it is an enjoyable read with an ability to generate a spark in the mind of a creative person.
  10. voxel
    Well organized and neatly articulated
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 12, 2018
    The author has done his homework and made sure that the book is written in the best way possible. It talks about good ideas, where they come from and how culmination of different good ideas and their foster over the years gives us a great innovation.

    The author strips off the Eureka moments from most innovations and changes the way we had thought about it, thereby giving us a new perspective.

    In short, I would call it a non-conventional story book of major inventions and discoveries, along with their background and all other necessary information to help us understand the value of time and efforts put into something to yield something that is great and useful to the humanity.
  11. Seamus
    Easily understandable
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 4, 2018
    The book talks about innovation but in a way a common man can easily understand. I loved the fact that it does a wonderful job organizing existing ideas and summarizing it without including all that extra unwanted information which only a subject expert would understand.

    The author has also made use of wonderful examples and explained to us the attitude in which we should see an innovation without associating it with and focusing on business ideas. He teaches us through this book how to link an innovation to history of science and biological evolution and paints a coherent picture about the whole thing.

Book Summary

  1. The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery--these are all great ideas. But where do they come from? What kind of environment breeds them? What sparks the flash of brilliance? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies that push forward our lives, our society, our culture?

    Steven Johnson's answers are revelatory as he identifies the seven key patterns behind genuine innovation, and traces them across time and disciplines. From Darwin and Freud to the halls of Google and Apple, Johnson investigates the innovation hubs throughout modern time and pulls out the approaches and commonalities that seem to appear at moments of originality.

    Share Book