How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom by Matt Ridley

Summary

  1. Innovation is simply the rearranging of elements to create something unlikely that is better or takes less energy to accomplish a task

Key Takeaways

  1. Innovation is one of most important yet least understood human phenomenon. It allows us to leverage other people’s skills and time so that we can specialize yet enjoy a broad diversity of products and services. This process makes us more interdependent and globalized
  2. Invention is taking somethings from 0 to 1. Innovation is the incremental progress to make something reliable and widespread. Many inventors think they are building  something for the wealthy, a luxury item. Innovators then take that idea and refine it, bringing it to the masses 
  3. Simultaneous invention appears to be the norm as technologies, thought, and idea coalesce into a more probable state   
  4. Use often precedes understanding. This is common and to be expected
  5. The Wright brothers innovated perfectly – with little money, few preconceived notions, not reliant on any government or regulation, iterating quickly 
  6. A common pattern in innovation is looking to other fields for inspiration  
  7. Something can seem inevitable in hindsight but totally mysterious in the present. This is a surprising finding of invention 
  8. Dense human populations seem to serve as a catalyst for invention and innovation. Without it, specialization can’t occur which doesn’t allow progress to be made – at least not nearly as rapidly. A good counterpoint seems to lie in Tasmania. They became increasingly isolated and actually lost a lot of the technology their ancestors had originally come with when they landed on the island. Globalization and trade Spurs goods and ideas, where we can learn from each other. Innovation is a collective phenomenon that occurs between and not within brains 
  1. Geoffrey West, Scale
  2. The main ingredient and secret sauce that spurs innovation is freedom – freedom from regulation, freedom from over restrictive laws and boundaries, freedom to pursue your dream and more

What I got out of it

  1. Fascinating book that helps tie together patterns of invention and innovation across history and industries