Why innovation is always a collaborative process

In How Innovation Works, Matt Ridley explains how and why innovation happens “when people are free to think, experiment, and speculate. It happens when people can trade with each other. It happens when people are relatively prosperous, not desperate. It is somewhat contagious. It needs investment. It generally happens in cities.”

Most innovation is a gradual process. It is also a team sport, as Ridley correctly suggests.

“The myth of the lonely inventor, the solitary genius, is hard to shake. Innovation always requires collaboration and sharing, as exemplified by the fact that even the simplest process is beyond the capacity of any one human being to understand. In a famous essay called I, Pencil, Leonard Reed pointed out that a simple pencil is made by many different people, some cutting trees down, others mining graphite, others working in pencil factories, or in marketing or management, yet others growing coffee for the lumberjacks and managers to drink. Amid  this vast team of collaborating people. not one person knows how to make a pencil. The knowledge is stored between heads, not inside them.”

Matt Ridley observes,”the striking thing about innovation is how mysterious it still is. No economist or social scientist can fully explain why innovation happens, let alone why it happens when and where it does. In this book I shall try to tackle this puzzle.”

Mark Ridley

Indeed he does. Bravo!

How Innovation Works:  And Why It Flourishes in Freedom was published by Harper.

I also highly recommend two other books: Jim McKelvey’s The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time, published by Portfolio/Penguin (March 2020), and Alex Goryachev’s Fearless Innovation: Going Beyond the Buzzword to Continuously Drive Growth, Improve the Bottom Line, and Enact Change, published by Wiley (January 2020).

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