The classic image of a great idea being born goes something like this: A distinguished, older man, probably all alone and late at night, deep in thought in his study. The penny drops and – “Eureka!” – he’s got it. According to science and technology writer Steven Johnson, that’s not quite how it happens.
In his research into which environments foster innovation and creativity, Johnson has found that the more social, the better. As he explains in this stimulating TED talk, it’s all about networking. For example, among scientists, ideas are most likely to be born in the meeting room when people come together to discuss their findings – rather than when they’re alone at the microscope. Just as neurons in the brain form pathways, so too do people tend to stitch existing pieces together to solve a problem and make something new.