According to Steve Jobs, being creative is not so much about coming up with new ideas, but about finding new ways to combine fragments from previously existing concepts. In order to do this, we have to train our mind to relate to our own everyday reality. The most creative people are able to find connections between seemingly unrelated contexts, ingeniously connecting the dots to generate a clear image of their new and innovative idea. The author provides examples of cases in which people have come up with brilliant ideas by forging innovative paths and finding new connections with old information.
One of the stories begins in a small village in Kent, England, which was grappling with a big problem: litter. Empty bottles, sweet wrappers, and plastic bags constantly lined the streets, until one local shopkeeper, who was tired of the situation, decided that it was pointless simply telling off the children responsible, so he came up with an alternative solution. Every time a child or teenager bought something in his shop, he wrote their name on the container or wrapper. The names of the children could then be seen on the cans of Coca-Cola, popcorn wrappers, and biscuit packets lining the streets.In no time at all, the rubbish began to disappear from the pavements, and the litter bins started to fill up again. No one forced the children to behave in a civilised way; they had done so naturally, because they were worried that their name would be visible on a plastic container thrown carelessly in a meadow or on the side of the road. The shopkeeper did not have to resort to threats or to telling the children off; he simply assessed the situation and took an alternative route, which turned out to be highly effective.