For some reason we have this overwhelming desire to tell stories of breakthrough ideas and innovation as eureka moments... But in fact when you go back and look at the historical record, it turns out that the stories are often much longer, much slower, much more nuanced and much more collaborative than we give them credit for.
I went to go see Steven Johnson speak at the RSA on Tuesday, where he attempted to answer the question Where do good ideas come from?.
This has largely been my experience: any epiphanies I've ever had have been the result of thinking about a topic for a long time. I can't think of anything that has come to me “out of the blue.” However, as Andrew pointed when we were discussing the event afterwards, having the ideas is actually the easy part; it's acting on them that is difficult.