I recently saw an episode of the Simpsons where Homer was trying to be an inventor like his lifelong idol, Thomas Edison. In order to invent “stuff” he does what Thomas Edison did and smoked three cigars a day and waited for an idea to come to him. When that did not work, he had a brainstorming session with Bart and Lisa where each would say a word and Homer would use his innovative mind to combine them into an original idea. Thus was born/died the fluorescent booger and the automatic butt.
When those ideas did not work, Marge brings Homer a tuna sandwich because it’s brain food (“There is a lot of dolphins in it and you know how smart dolphins are”).
Finally, he goes to his friend Professor Frink who tells him that if he wants to be a great inventor all he has to do is think of things that people need but don’t exist yet ) like the electric blanket mobile) or take something that already exists and find a new use for it (like hamburger ear muffs). I won’t be a spoiler and tell you the end but many people, like Homer, believe that great ideas come about because of a Eureka moment with a sudden stroke of inspiration after eating a tuna sandwich. They occur because someone is in the right place at the right time.
They happen because people have taken the time to examine the history of an idea and improve upon the idea. I would venture to say that all successful inventions, innovations and ideas were built on the idea that someone else had started. Ideas never stand alone!
So, in an effort to help the economic developer answer the question “who has solved a problem similar to mine?”, I am going to post articles of ideas and practices that other communities have implemented that I think could be useful to solve problems that other communities are facing and improve upon them.
Since writing this made me hungry, I am going now go eat a tuna fish sandwich and look for more inspiring ideas.
(PS: To explore the idea of innovation more, I suggest reading The Myth of Innovation by Scott Berkum and Where Do Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson).