They don’t exist: The ingenious inventor and the one inspiring idea
If you asked a child who invented the chocolate cake, they would answer “mom” without a doubt. How could it know how many heads and ideas it took to get chocolate cake out of the oven? This is how we feel with our understanding of the inventor.
The innovations of our time are associated with a single person, although it is almost always a collaborative project
Analogous to the consumer-oriented society in which everything is packaged ready for use, we understand the relationship between “invention and inventor” as a kind of “finished product of innovation” – classified in the category “ingenious idea and ingenious mind”. But it’s usually not like that. Many minds and many ideas precede innovations. In the age of “network thinking” more than ever.
The myth of the “hermit inventor” is also supported by our laws
Usually those who contributed the last decisive thought to an innovation apply for a patent. This then runs on a name or small groups. This leads in addition to the misunderstanding that individual persons are solely inspired by great ideas.
The only inspired thought that does not exist
Great innovations are created in small ideas – step by step – every day. They mature in minds and in exchange with other people. Often people even invent things at the same time. For example, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz discovered differential calculus independently of each other, at about the same time.
The belief that inventions must come to us in perfect form and like divine inspiration prevents the best developments
In a society that is geared towards speed and efficiency, the muse for innovation is often missing. The really great inventions are created in hours of leisure. Great ideas are not born under pressure. They are often a hotchpotch of thoughts that arise in many relaxed moments. While goal-oriented and efficient work requires concentration – innovative strength demands the exact opposite – distraction.
A fleeting thought here, an inspiration there, an inspiring relaxed conversation – all small facets. This is how the really great innovations are born. You can’t force the muse to kiss you. They are drawn to the place where people give free rein to their thoughts.
Deadly enemies of innovation – time pressure and arrogance
Great ideas do not come quickly or easily. They require an almost pathological passion to want to deal with something again and again. Only such passion gives the readiness for intensive commitment. The expectations of others are not capable of this. Passion and patience are the ingredients for great ideas.
Arrogance is the other mortal enemy of invention. Arrogant people do not hear the best ideas of others because they think they already know everything. Great researchers can be recognized by the fact that they enjoy listening and are open to the ideas of others. Ingenious minds communicate at eye level and enjoy listening to the thoughts of others. They love creativity and not their image as “genius type”.
Important insights come when they want to and not when we demand it
On closer inspection, big ideas are many small previous insights.
Thus, it took Tim Berners-Lee four decades of many small innovations in networking, electronics and software to build on the concept of the Internet to create the World Wide Web.
You are missing ideas for a project?
Go have a coffee with friends. Drive to the beach or even to the mountains. Think of something nice.
For the muse comes like love: then, when we have not called for her – surprise her with her presence.