William Duggan has asked thousands of people what they were doing when good strategic ideas struck them, and the answers inevitably include relaxing activities such as running, swimming, showering and falling asleep. "No one has ever said, 'In a formal brainstorming meeting,'" notes Duggan an associate professor of management at Columbia Business School. Innovative business ideas occurred to Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and the founders of Google when their minds were free enough to accept the flash of insight, he says.

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