The Innovator’s Cookbook


innovationcookbook.jpgThe Innovator’s Cookbook : Essentials for Inventor’s What is Next (2011)
By Steven Johnson

Its unbelievable that this book was published in 2011. The contents of it are still very relevant as of today in year 2017. The author gives many real life examples to state what he thinks are essential for innovation.

He talks about old buildings and innovation. What kinds of old buildings are most freeing? These buildings are usually shabby and spacious. Any change is likely to be an improvement. They are discarded buildings, fairly free of concern from landlord or authorities : “Do what you want. The place can’t get much worse anyway. It’s just too much trouble to tear down.

Example in MIT, there is a temporary building called Building 20. Its a 250,000 square foot three storey wood structure. Because its an old building, it puts on the personality of the people in it. The alumni of the building got feedback of the building “Windows that open and shut at will of the owner! The ability to personalize your space and shape it to various purposes.”

Only operations that are well established, high-turnover, standardized or highly subsidized can afford to carry the cost of new construction. Chain stores, chain restaurants, and banks go into new construction. But neighbourhood bars, foreign restaurants and pawn shops go into older buildings. Supermarkets and shoe stores often go into new buildings; good bookstores and antique dealers seldom do. The unformalized feeders of the art – studios, galleries, stores for musical instruments and art supplies, backrooms where the low earning power of a seat and table can absorb uneconomic discussions – these go into old buildings.

Old ideas can sometimes use New buildings. New ideas must come from old buildings.


Cities and regions that attract lots of creative talent are also those with greater diversity and higher levels of quality of place. That’s because location choices of creative class are based to a large degree on their lifestyle interests, and these go well beyond the standard “quality of life” amenities that most experts think are important.

Talented people seek an environment open to differences. Many highly creative people, regardless of ethnic background or sexual orientation, grew up feeling like outsiders, different in some way from most of their schoolmates. They want a place that reads “Nonstandard People welcome here”

Creative-minded people enjoy a mix of influences. They want to hear different kinds of music and try different kinds of food. They want to meet and socialize with people unlike themselves, trade views and spar over issues. Creative-class people value active outdoor recreation very highly.


Do not go after the affluent segments, wage cost differentials, but to serve the mass market. Only there will you be forced to innovate in the ways required to succeed in future.

Over the years, consumer packaged-goods companies have reduced their products’ unit size in emerging markets to unlock demand among consumers who can’t afford bigger portions. Coco-cola for example began selling 200ml bottles of coke in india in 2003, Britannia launched Tiger Biscuits in 20-gram packages in 1999.







About dailytools

I live in Singapore. Out of impulse, I decide to try out wordpress blog, despite having always blog my daily readings on for over the past 2 years.

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