Photo: Associated Press
Disruptive innovators are different from everybody else. They’re able to associate — or “make surprising connections across areas of knowledge, industries, even geographies,” according to the authors of The Innovator’s DNA. They also “actively pursue diverse new information and ideas through questioning, observing, networking and experimenting.”It’s no easy task, and surprisingly few people pull it off successfully.
Here’s what the authors say about the moment CEO Marc Benioff came up with the idea for Salesforce.com, when he took a break from his job at Oracle:
Benioff decided it was time to think more deeply about the technological landscape – and his own career. So he took a sabbatical that started with a trip to India where he met a variety of diverse people, including a spiritual leader and humanitarian, Mata Amritanandamayi (who helped strengthen his commitment to doing well and doing good in business). Benioff’s next stop on this global journey was Hawaii, where he discussed various ideas for new businesses with an assortment of entrepreneurs and friends. While swimming with dolphins in the Pacific Ocean, the fundamental epiphany for Salesforce.com surfaced. He reflected: “I asked myself ‘Why aren’t all enterprise software applications built like Amazon and eBay?'”
This is a good example of how environment influences creativity — which is why it’s also worth noting that Benioff spent his college summers working at Apple during the building of the first Macintosh.
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