is a circuit of highly popular conferences that present "Ideas Worth Spreading" - which have quickly grown to become some of the most well known conferences around the world. TED has attracted presenters such as Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Larry Page, and a large handful of Nobel Prize Winners. Many of the presentations, known as TED Talks, present ideas that are particularly valuable to entrepreneurs. I put together a collection of TED Talks that all entrepreneurs should find interesting and worthwhile.
The food industry used to determine what people want to eat by asking them - as you may have seen in the focus groups portrayed on Mad Men. Fact is, people don't know what they want. Ask people what kind of coffee they like and they'll say a "dark, rich, hearty roast" - in fact, most people actually want milky weak coffee.
Unilever (they own 400 brands, including: Dove, Lipton, Becel, and more) hired some of the most brilliant engineers in the world to design the perfect nozzle to squirt out laundry detergent. No one could get it right. So they used trial and error instead. They created ten random variations of a nozzle, and kept the one that worked best. Then they created ten variations on that one, and kept the one that worked best, and so on. After 45 generations Unilever developed a perfect laundry detergent nozzle with absolutely no idea why it works.
In this TED talk, economics writer Tim Harford studies complex systems and finds a surprising link among the successful ones: they were built through trial and error. He asks entrepreneurs to embrace our randomness and start making better mistakes. Check out Tim Harford's books "" and "."
Entrepreneurs often credit their ideas to individual "Eureka!" moments. Steven Johnson doesn't think it's that simple and shows us how history tells a different story. Steven Johnson is a best-selling author of seven books all on the intersection of science and technology woven together by personal experience. Johnson's book, "Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation" digs deep on the topic introduced in his TED Talk above. Also check out his most recent book which is only available for pre-order "Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age."