In the following excerpt from One Plus One Equals Three, Dave Trott shares and expands on Steve Jobs’ take on the source of human creativity.
A few years ago I read an interview with Steve Jobs.
Steve said any new idea is nothing more than a new combination of old elements.
He said the ability to make those new combinations depends on our ability to see relationships.
That’s what makes some people more creative.
They are better at spotting those connections, better at recognizing possible relationships.
They are able to do this because they’ve had more experiences, or thought more about those experiences, than other people.
They are better at connecting the dots because they have more dots to connect.
Steve said that this was the problem in the ‘creative’ industries.
Most people haven’t had diverse experiences.
They may know a lot, but only about a very narrow field.
So they don’t have enough dots to connect.
And so they end up with predictable, linear solutions.
One of the best advertising people ever was Carl Ally.
He said the true creative person wants to be a know-it-all.
They want to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth-century mathematics, modern manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and lean hog futures.
Because they never know when these ideas might come together to form a new idea.
It may happen six minutes later or six years down the road, but they know it will happen.
The more varied the input, the more unexpected the combinations, the more creative the ideas.
As Steve Jobs said: the broader our understanding of human experience, the more dots we will have to connect, the more creative our ideas will be.