- “Steven Johnson, who wrote an insightful book about how people in science and in general come up with genuine new ideas, calls it the ‘slow hunch.’ As a precondition to make use of this intuition, he emphasises the importance of experimental spaces where ideas can freely mingle. A laboratory with open-minded colleagues can be such a space, much as intellectuals and artists freely discussed ideas in the cafés of old Paris. I would add the slip-box as such a space in which ideas can mingle freely, so they can give birth to new ones.”
This piqued my interest, so I did some deeper digging into the slow hunch.
Where Good Ideas Come From: The “Slow Hunch” with Steven Johnson (Short Read)
What is the Slow Hunch?
Steven Johnson explains it the following ways:
- “If you go back and look at the historical record, it turns out that a lot of important ideas have very long incubation periods. I call this the ‘slow hunch’ … A lot of great ideas linger on sometimes for decades in the back of people’s minds.”
- “Change can be fast. The most important ideas that trigger change are often very slow in their development—what I call the ‘slow hunch’ … If you go back and look at all sorts of innovations throughout history, the lightbulb moment almost never really exists. It’s almost always this long process where somebody has a fragment of an idea and it sits in their head for a year, or two years, or ten years before it turns into something really useful.”
- “I’m really interested in innovation and technology, and at the same time I spend a lot of my recent career talking about things like the slow hunch—ideas that need time to develop and incubate (sometimes for a decade). In a sense, those two things seem to be in conflict with each other because you have this pace of change that’s accelerating … but you also inevitably need that longer development to come up with truly important ideas … The secret to slow hunches is keeping them alive.”
Slow Hunch Videos
Here are a few short videos of Steven Johnson explaining the slow hunch:
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