Where do good ideas come from?

Good Idea!When was the last time you had a great idea? Did it just pop into your head? Did you think, “Eureka! I’ve got it!” Well, Steven Johnson, author of “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation,” might tell you that your idea wasn’t a single thing or a specific moment, but rather a network of connections made over time. Since ideas come from connectedness, the environments that breed good ideas are ones in which people are constantly sharing information with one another in an open way. Johnson claims that the greatest tool for innovation is “circle of humans around a table, talking shop.” In fact, it was a connected environment in which the basis for mapping software like GPS was born—check out this 2010 TED talk from Steven Johnson to hear the whole story. Good ideas come from being connected, something that we SCOPErs believe and which is embodied in our mission to connect and inspire citizens to create a better community. One of the most meaningful ways SCOPE staff are currently working with the people who live and work in Sarasota County residents to create a better community is through structured “community conversations” that are happening out and about in our county. Through these conversations, happening in partnership with different resident groups and organizations, we are connecting with new faces all over the county. The purpose of these conversations is to listen to residents about their aspirations for the community, their current realities, and the local wisdom about how to overcome these challenges (and who might be able to help). As SCOPE continues to listen to residents in these community conversations we are taking note of recurring themes and the qualities of life that matter most to the people who live and work in Sarasota County.  These themes will be shared back with all community conversation participants and partners, and will also be shared here on our blog. See this guest blog post from Beatriz Paniego Bejar of UnidosNow to hear more about her experience with a community conversation in March.

Through listening to the people who live and work in Sarasota County and sharing what we are hearing, we hope to create a more connected community—one that is innovating and connecting for positive change. I will leave you with this excerpt from Johnson’s book:

“We are often better served by connecting ideas than we are by protecting them…the truth is when one looks at innovation in nature and in culture, environments that build walls around good ideas tend to be less innovative in the long run than more open-ended environments. Good ideas may not want to be free, but they do want to connect, fuse, recombine. They want to reinvent themselves by crossing conceptual borders. They want to complete each other as much as they want to compete.”