Necessity Isn’t Always the Mother of Invention

I just watched a TED video where Steven Johnson shares the story of how a flute made by a pre-historic man led to the creation of a tech revolution, that is the computer. You can watch the TED video here or below.

He goes on to argue that not all inventions  come from necessity and that there is a good possibility that people who have fun invariably invent new stuff that enables them to have fun, the kind that they want.

In all the Design Thinking workshops that I moderate, I have three rules for all participants:

  1. One conversation at a time
  2. 15 Minutes means 15 minutes
  3. Have fun.

I strongly believe that one’s learning cant be complete unless one is having fun learning the stuff. Even with serious topics, I have seen that people who enjoy the subject and have fun engaging with the topic are the one’s that master the subject.

What I didn’t realise at that time was that fun not only leads to more deeper understanding and is a much better predictor of learning, but could also lead to inventions.

This realisation raises a lot of questions from a learning perspective: Why are all learning institutions so serious? The teachers in school want their students to be serious and not play around or goof around, when we know that children learn a lot more by goofing around than by listening to a teacher talk about the very same subjects. Why do almost all executive education so serious, when we know that surprises are probably the biggest source of innovation and creativity and when having fun with a specific topic could easily lead to breakthrough innovations.

I was already convinced of the importance of having fun to have a much deeper learning experience. Now, I am convinced that having fun with a topic has the potential to lead us to innovations rather than formal, serious study (while this is as much a part of the process as well).

Are you convinced of this fact?

If not, I would recommend reading the book – Wonderland by Steven Johnson to explore & have a lot more insights on how this world has been transformed by a small section of people who decide to have fun and in the process create world changing technologies.