There's a YouTube talk by the author on the subject here:
The rough idea is this:
- creativity often arises by stumbling around in a problem space, or in operating "randomly" under an artificially-imposed constraint
- modern life is obsessed with metrics and goal-setting, and this has extended into creative pursuits including science, research, and business
- sometimes, short-term focus on the goal defeats the goal-given aims (see e.g. shareholder value focus)
- the authors point out that when they were researching artificial intelligence, they discovered that systems that focused too much on an explicitly-coded "objective" would end up producing lackluster results, but systems that did more "playful" exploration within a problem space produced more creative results
- using this backdrop, the authors suggest perhaps innovation is not driven by narrowly focused heroic effort and is instead driven by serendipitous discovery and playful creativity
I found the ideas compelling, as I do find Kay's description of the "art" behind research.
Get dozens of book recommendations delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday.