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The business of innovation: Steven Johnson

From the beeb:

The business of innovation: Steven Johnson

By Fiona Graham Technology of business reporter, BBC News

Steven Johnson: “The lone genius is the exception rather than the rule.”

Standing on the station platform, waiting for the Philadelphia train one night in the summer of 1902, Willis Carrier was about to have his ‘eureka moment’.

As the fog rolled in across the track, he suddenly realised how he could fix the nascent air-cooling system he’d been working on, using water as a condensing surface.

This sudden moment of inspiration led to the invention of modern air-conditioning, a fortune for its inventor, and the foundation of a multi-billion dollar company.

The lone genius, beavering away in the seclusion of his lab is how most of us imagine the great moments of innovation have come into being. But is this really the whole story?

Not entirely, according to author Steven Johnson. He believes Willis Carrier is very much the exception rather than the rule.

“It’s not that the individuals disappear in this, it’s just that they need to be part of something larger than themselves to be able to do the work that they do.”

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