This past week America lost an iconic leader known as one of the world’s foremost innovators, Steve Jobs. As chairman and chief executive officer of Apple Inc., he was also the man behind the slogan “think differently’.
Jobs, along with this senior vice president, Ron Johnson, exemplified the concept of cross-pollination to bolster creativity, shown in the design of the Apple stores.Their inspiration, apparently, came from the Four Seasons Hotel.
Notice that when you walk into an Apple store, you do not find a cashier. You find a concierge. Go to the back of the store and you won’t find a bar serving alcoholic drinks. You will find the genius bar where you get advice. Advice that you won’t get as easily if you bought a computer from Microsoft.
Cross-pollination is an effective way to spawn ideas. There are many ideas in history that came this way. The microwave oven came from work scientists were doing related to radar in World War II. The HP-Crospon skin patch, a drug delivery system that is safer and more efficient than most injections, came from the inkjet printer. The mechanism for he submarine’s ascent and descent came from a fish bladder, which inflates or deflates with gas to change depth.
So what’s the best way to cross-pollinate ideas? Begin by being very alert. Notice what is in your environment. Be curious. Ask questions. And always entertain possibilities of thinking that you normally would not.