This Architect Shares What You Gain When You Think Like an Outsider

On our latest podcast 'How Success Happens' Witold Rybczynski shares how studying everyday things can reveal some surprising insights on the nature of invention.
This Architect Shares What You Gain When You Think Like an Outsider
Image credit: Witold Rybczynski

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How Success Happens is a podcast featuring polar explorers, authors, ultra marathoners, artists and more to better understand what connects dreaming and doing. Linda Lacina,'s managing editor, guides these chats so anyone can understand the traits that underpin achievement and what fuels the decisions to push us forward. Listen below or click here to read more shownotes.

Ever wondered why everyone seems to have the same plastic patio chair? Or why the Phillips head screwdriver is in everyone’s toolbox?

Probably not. But as Witold Rybczynski tells us, studying everyday things can reveal some surprising insights on the nature of invention and how things come to be. As this architect and author notes, while fashions might change from year to year and customs shift within a generation, cultural ideas transform very slowly, and can reveal important insights about what we value and what drives change.

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Studying what we overlook can also give us special perspective on how innovation really happens -- slowly, and with a lot of help. The monobloc patio chair, for instance, is really the result of decades of technological innovation. But as Witold Rybczynski discovers in his latest book, Now I Sit Me Down, it also shows us reach of globalism, as these chairs are reproduced nearly exactly the same in factories around the world.

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And yet, the basic chair has remained mostly intact since ancient times. The basic invention, despite all our advances in manufacturing and technology, still fits our needs -- and hasn’t been improved upon.

In this week’s podcast of How Success Happens, Rybczynski will talk to us about what we learn when we take time to study the things we might otherwise overlook, and what that can reveal. He’ll also explain how an outsider’s perspective can give anyone an advantage and how that can bring useful and surprising insights on innovation.

To subscribe to this podcast, find us on the following platforms: SoundCloud, Stitcher, iTunes.

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