September 14, 2009
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Borrowed Brilliance
You may have heard the cynical expression “There are no new ideas.” Well, David Kord Murray wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that sentiment, but he would argue that it isn’t such a bad thing either. In Borrowing Brilliance, he tells us that when Isaac Newton was accused of stealing the creation of calculus, Newton defended himself by saying, “Yes, in order to see farther, I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”
For a more contemporary example, Murray tells the following story:
Bill Gates had pulled off the business deal of the century. IBM would sell millions of PCs, each running MS-DOS, and each triggering a royalty check to Microsoft. Others would copy, or clone, IBM’s machine and they, too, would turn to Gates for his borrowed operating system … Gates had borrowed the code from Seattle Computer, which had borrowed it from Digital Research, and used it as a beachhead into the desktops of millions of computers, brilliantly solving the problem he had identified … The business deal of the century had made him the richest man in the world and for us is the perfect example of what I mean by the term borrowed brilliance.Murray’s many intriguing examples also include the Google guys creating their Empire by using existing search engines to discover a pattern in the results that allowed them to ultimately create the algorithm that became the keystone to the Google search engine and Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin based on the work of many other scientists. The glue that supports Murray’s theory and holds your interest throughout is these wide-ranging and well-told stories.
In Dan Pink’s great book, A Whole New Mind, he suggests that the primary worker in this new economy is the creative worker. And, to survive the innovation wave that is coming, the creative worker needs to become the creator of ideas—not just the manager of them. In Borrowing Brilliance, Murray demonstrates that these ideas can and should be inspired by the ideas of others, and lays out the tools you need to build on them.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.