Idea collaboration – Learning from inventors and scientists

idea collaboration by Inventors, vintage sewing machine

Idea Collaboration – What the inventors say


The sentence “What hath god wrought” was the first telegraphic message of the world that was sent in 1844 from the US Supreme Court premises to Baltimore in the United States. From then on it was the onset of a great invention of the Modern times which influenced the world so much. We have seen the use of the Telegraph in so many of the Hollywood’s World War movies today. But then, the question we would like to ask is, what went on those days in the minds of Inventors, Samuel Morse when he invented the telegraph? Was it a flash of creative insight? Or was it series of successive idea collaboration drawn over time that eventually went on to reveal the Telegraph. We will see that in a while.

As we seek to understand and explore these answers, they have profound impact and have great relevance for today’s problem solving methods in our workplaces and if you are an entrepreneur, it becomes much more essential to the way you work.

Similarly, there is this case of Charles Darwin who came up with the Theory of Evolution. Charles reached many dead ends but he finally came up with his significant 1859 book “On the origin of species” which changed the world overcoming previous scientific principles on the subject.

I was reading through the book “Group Genius” by Keith Sawyer. Brilliant analysis of a case study on both the inventors. Both were classic examples to prove that it is not a sudden flash of insight that happened that led to their inventions but over a long drawn case of successive idea collaboration from which the insights arose.

In the next couple of paragraphs, we will see two simple stories as examples how they can be relevant to problem solving approaches in today’s modern workplaces.  In both these examples, an important point to note is that the successive ideas happen over time. It is not instantaneous. Both the inventors had considerable time gaps before they actually came up with their breakthroughs. This time gap provided them the ample space for the discussion and successive  idea collaboration with their peers.


Learning idea collaboration from the classic examples of inventors

Telegraph pole
Telegraph pole

Samuel F Morse was an accomplished painter in his early days. He never had an idea on the workings of the electric current. He was neither trained nor educated in those fields. It was in the year of 1829, a chance meeting with another person had changed the course of events. Morse was on a ship returning back to the United States after extensive tour of Europe. During a conversational chat with a group of people on the ship he had inkling of an idea that electric current can be used to pass messages from one place to another place. The passage of the electric current was instantaneous on wires.

Continue reading