Idea Collisions

By Deane Barker on October 9, 2010

I’ve seen two things lately that revolve around the same topic – the notion that great ideas come from “collisions” between smaller ideas.  These two videos are both short, but really worth watching if you’re interested in mind hacking at all.

  • When Ideas Have Sex
    At TED, Matt Ridley talks about this concept and really drives home an interesting metaphor: no one person knows how to build a computer mouse.  The humble computer mouse is the result in an astonishing number of ideas coming together.  Ideas “mate” and produce new ideas.
  • Where Great Ideas Come From
    Same concept here. The speaker furthers this concept by saying “chance favors the connected mind,” meaning that this historic level of connectivity we’re experiencing is resulting in more and more “idea collisions” and historic levels of innovation.

I’ve also heard this concept in Jim Collins book “Good to Great.”  He relates how the invention of Post-It Notes at 3M was the accidental collision of a couple different ideas.

This is why I think great things naturally come from getting great people together and encouraging them to talk.  At Blend, we try to encourage this.  We don’t always succeed but we really hope that our employees will keep themselves connected to their industries as much as possible.  We send them to conferences, we encourage them to speak at conferences, we love it when they blog, we not only allow freelance work, we actually encourage it, etc.

I’m a big believer in this notion:

To win the lottery, you first have to buy a ticket.

I think every time you talk to someone, every book you read, every conference you go to is the purchase of a lottery ticket.  You never know when the right ticket is going to hit, so buy lots of tickets every day.  Ideas collide all the time – you just have to get the right ones to collide in the right environment.



  1. This made me think of a small book that was given to me when I worked at an ad agency. A Technique for Producing Ideas was written in the 40s by a very successful copywriter at J Walter Thompson – and although the writing style and tone of the book are a bit outdated, it got me to embrace the idea of exposing my attention to a wide variety of topics — particularly topics far ranging from my actual job. (Currently reading a history of Peter the Great)

    It is interesting that when asked why would he write a book about what makes you successful – thereby giving others your best techniques – he said: most people are too lazy to actually do it.

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