Eureka Moments Don’t Exist

The stories we read about innovation and success tend to hinge on one big Eureka Moment (also known as ‘Lightbulb’ or ‘Aha’ moments), mainly because it makes for inspiring reading.

Unfortunately, for those looking to learn something they can apply to their own innovation efforts, the sudden moment of discovery can be very misleading.

This is because stories about great Eureka moments tend to leave out the less interesting details of the endless testing, thinking, researching and tinkering that are necessary to get an idea off the ground.

Ideas initially take form as hunches. They never come in to the world fully formed. They don’t just pop in to people’s heads out of the middle of nowhere.

Contrary to popular belief, the Eureka Moment in fact happens right at the end of the process, not at the beginning. It’s that point when all of the effort of development comes together in a working product that makes sense for its time and finds its market.

Often for the innovator, it is only with hindsight that they can talk about a Eureka Moment. Usually they are too busy working on their project to notice that moment pass. There may never even have been a single Eureka Moment but rather a series of mini Eurekas that allowed the innovation to come together.

It’s not just us that think Eureka moments don’t really exist:

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” – Chuck Close, Photorealist Artist

“The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin H. Land, Co-Founder of the Polaroid camera

“Your struggle is fuel for whatever it is you must make” – Seth Godin, Author

“Creativity consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.” – George Kneller, Philosopher

“There are no tricks, short-cuts or get-creative-quick schemes. The process is ordinary, even if the outcome is not. Creating is not magic but work.” – Kevin Ashton, author of ‘How to Fly a Horse’