… we need to start with great ideas, and we get these by making novel connections. I like this talk because there are several great examples of the importance of connecting in innovation.
The first example of connecting works at the meta level. This is a great example of confronting an uncertain business situation (what do we do about the internet?) through the use of analogy (trying to find the most comparable set connections out of several possibilities). In this case, Bezos takes on the idea that the internet was like the gold rushes of the 19th century. This was a common idea after the dot.com bust. He argues that this comparison is not the most accurate one, and that a better analogy to use would be that the internet is like electricity. […]
Finally, he shows the value of trying many possible combinations of ideas. Not all of them work, and in retrospect the ones that don’t look stupid. Like the electric tie straightener, and the stupid dot.coms. But that’s the essence of innovation – experiment widely to see what works. Find has many new connections between ideas as possible, and try them out. This leads to waste – so we need to find ways to test these new combinations as quickly and cheaply as possible. But since we don’t know in advance which ideas will work, the best way to filter them out is through experimenting.
[…] I think we need to focus on getting better at connecting ideas in novel ways. This is how innovative ideas arise. There are skills that help in this regard – pattern recognition, lateral thinking, and so on. If you’re trying to be more innovative, try to build these skills. Don’t try to compile more ideas, focus instead on making more novel connections, because that’s the fundamental creative act in innovation.