"Chance favors the connected mind." - Steven Johnson, author of "Where Good Ideas Come From"
One of my favorite bloggers on creativity is Douglas Eby, who recently posted these thoughts on Incubating Innovation and Creativity:
One of the theoretical four stages of creativity (along with preparation, illumination, and verification), incubation is defined as 'a process of unconscious recombination of thought elements that were stimulated through conscious work at one point in time, resulting in novel ideas at some later point in time.'
Eby links to the video here of John Dabiri, a Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering at Caltech, who was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2010. Dabiri's work,
'draws on a wide range of fields—including theoretical fluid dynamics, evolutionary biology, and biomechanics—to unravel the secrets of one of the earliest means of animal locomotion,' according to a profile on the MacArthur site.
Dabiri's sources his ideas about wind power, for example, to the dynamics of fish schooling. It's one illustration of how his learned - "preparation" is one state of creativity! - and connected mind is predisposed to novel ideas in engineering.
The IdeaFestival is similarly about making new connections, and annually brings together top thinkers, tinkerers and creatives to describe their work and inspiration. While Eby's interest in Dabiri's work is primarily intellectual, the connected, or creative, process isn't merely of academic interest. David Barnes and Heather Howell, for example, will explore business innovation at IdeaFestival 2011.
If you're wondering whether the "connected" business has a real-world payoff, think about this: sixty percent of Apple's 2010 revenue was derived from products that didn't even exist four years ago.