From the time we were little children my brother.. and myself lived together played together, worked together and, in fact, thought together. We usually owned all of our toys in common, talked over our thoughts and aspirations so that nearly everything that was done in our lives has been the result of conversations, suggestions and discussions between us.
These are the words of Wilbur Wright, describing his lifelong collaboration with his brother, Orville, cited by Keith Sawyer in his book, Group Genius. They’re a striking description of a relational way of thinking about innovation, and are a sharp contrast to so many approaches which seem riddled with linearity and control. Keith explains:
The Wrights didn’t experience a single moment of insight; rather, their collaboration resulted in a string of successive ideas, each spark lighting the next.
I used to talk a lot about relationships before ideas, and these quotes remind me of that principle.