A Flash of Insight

Where do great ideas come from?

Source: Wikipedia – Fir0002/Flagstaffphotos

Sometimes something new comes up that takes the world by storm, like relativity or semiconductors or smartphones. Truly new ideas come from people who aren’t being paid to have ideas; they’re paid to be patent clerks or monks or managers. They come from folks who are quirky and individualistic and sometimes seem obsessed. It’s only afterwards the new concept seems almost obvious, and other people ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

We live in an economy that depends on new ideas—on new technology that can change the way we live. It’s not enough to take current concepts and adopt them more broadly. The developing economies of China and India and Africa have billions of people being lifted out of poverty by doing that. But the process of globalization won’t support the advanced economies themselves. We need to do new things new ways.

And for that we need to encourage unconventional thinking by unconventional people—like Kelly Johnson’s “Skunk Works” or Robert Noyce’s Intel or Bell Labs. It’s not just IT: Ikea or Patagonia or Salman Khan have revolutionized their fields.

Ideas come from visionaries dedicated to “unpath’d waters and undream’d shores.”


Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Phone: 603-224-1350
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