Where Good Ideas Come From. The Natural History of Innovation.
by Steven Johnson. This is a really good book. It uses examples from the sciences and the development of the internet to link together concepts as variant as biological evolution and the introduction of YouTube to the market. The author relies heavily on Charles Darwin’s thought process and methodology to illustrate key concepts in innovative thought.
The author introduced me to the concept of the "adjacent possible"which describes the limited possibility for small systems to change or evolve. This concept explains evolution as not a process that is directed, or engineered to a pre-determined end, but one that by small changes occur in response to needs or circumstances. This is as true in the engineering world as well. Often the most elegant solution is the simplest, or the fewest steps away from the existing reality.
The book has a nice analysis of the environment where innovation occurs. A networked system, where ideas are freely exchanged without barriers, produces the most fertile ground for ideas in the last century or so.