In his book, Johnson parallels technology development/innovation with biological evolution. The core idea of the book is that like evolution also innovation benefit from reinventing/reusing, sharing, openness, errors and randomness. Johnson presents both historical and more current examples of innovation to back his claim.
For me the key takeaways of the book was a nice explanation of innovation, which manages to combine ‘leaps of innovation’ with a progressive development (of technology). Often individual geniuses and magical-like leaps in thinking are emphasized when innovations are described. Johnson manages to explain how the environment can support and build-up to these ‘leaps’. Johnson’s book would probably be a valuable thinking aid for anyone participating or responsible for company’s R&D or innovation activities. While some parts of the book implicate quite straightforward applications for product development organization’s practices or tools, the others are more challenging. For example the description of water as a good platform for evolution (water is eroding and brings different particles together yet remains itself the same) seem to hint some goals for good platforms (organizations and tools) for innovation. However, it might be a bit more problematic to build the platform that actually manages to realizes the water for innovation.