“Creativity is connecting things.”
—Steve Jobs, founder and CEO, Apple Inc.
INNOVATORS THINK DIFFERENTLY (to be grammatically correct), but as Steve Jobs put it, they really just think different by connecting the unconnected. Einstein once called creative thinking “combinatorial play” and saw it as “the essential feature in productive thought.” Associating—or the ability to make surprising connections across areas of knowledge, industries, even geographies—is an often-taken-for-granted skill among the innovators we studied. Innovators actively pursue diverse new information and ideas through questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting—the key catalysts for creative associations.
To illustrate how ...