Here’s a really cool talk by Steven Johnson on how great ideas come into existence. He describes how ideas form, not as “eureka!” moments as they are often described, but rather through networks of thought and collaboration. He poses that Darwin’s “lightbulb” moment of discovery with the theory of natural selection is better described as the moment that his ideas came into sharp focus, rather than the moment at which the ideas were formed, and that in fact he had all the components of his theory laid out in his detailed notes months beforehand.
He also gives a great tie-in in telling the story of how GPS was born from a collaborative snowball-effect of hunches. Entertaining and informative – definitely worth a look! And it provides some general principles that those with startup ideas can apply to their own pursuits.
You can read a related New York Times article here: People and Places That Innovate, or buy his book on Amazon here Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.