Steve Jobs in a conversation with Robert Cringley:
You know, one of the things that really hurt Apple was after I left John Sculley got a very serious disease. It’s the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90% of the work. And if you just tell all these other people “here’s this great idea,” then of course they can go off and make it happen.
And the problem with that is that there’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous tradeoffs that you have to make. There are just certain things you can’t make electrons do. There are certain things you can’t make plastic do. Or glass do. Or factories do. Or robots do.
Designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want. And every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently.
Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway & a partner of billionaire investor Warren Buffet speaking to students in 1994 said:
“What is elementary, worldly wisdom? Well, the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ‘em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form.
You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.
Earlier this week when Stacey was visiting GigaOM offices, we went for a cup of tea and talked about how in our world, it is not just the news that matters but also how we as writers should be striving to connect the dots. That is the ultimate value add for our readers. This ability to connect the dots is pretty unique to each one of us and when I read these two comments, it reinforced that point to me.
7 thoughts on “Why connecting the dots is important too”
That is what I love and keeps me at Gigaom. With the loss of MG and Arrington, all the insight is gone at TC, I can get news anywhere.
Thanks Brian. We try and serve.
Short article but the importance of what you’ve said can’t be overstated. Information can be found in abundance. The best give the information meaning by linking it to points of relevance. And this is what you do so well.
Keep up the good work.
Connecting the dots also takes an other-centeredness. It is the first step in helping people understand how to curate to create content. Harvest the ideas and then add your point of view–the key to becoming a true Thought Leader.
Also add diversity to your sources of ideas and you create serendipity. Look for themes across disciplines. Many people stick to people just in their industry. You can easily see this in the people they follow on Twitter.
I miss Twitter’s “Retweets by Others” function, used it to help people understand how to expand on weak links–what ideas were spreading from friends’ friends.
You may enjoy my prezi from the Ideagoras conference a year ago: “Innovators are Conversation Architects.” http://www.screenr.com/w4F
Jobs talked about keeping five thousand things in your brain (if we start listing out all the brands and celebrities we can recall, I am sure that we can keep even more than five thousand things in our brain) and Charlie Munger talks about hanging experience on a latticework of models in your brain.
What do the rest of us generally say? Maybe that the insight has gone or Steve Jobs has gone, or this or that means the light is off – and if we should think that – then it merely proves that people like Steve Jobs and Charlie Munger are exceptions to the rule, and that the rest of us are the mere mortal rule makers.
Otherwise, what I have just read above should be capable of showing me that if I work my imagination, craft the idea, morph the emergent models in my head, connect and notice through iterative engagement and trust the design or thought process (which both Munger and Jobs have thoroughly worked – as evidenced by the quotes above) – there shouldn’t be a problem that my lights are not on, or insight has an off-switch (it does but that switch belongs to us).
What I have read above simply reminds me how friggin lazy I am, I quickly I head for a shortcut and how much of my thinking goes to waste. I don’t need to get into the mind of Charlie Munger or Steve Jobs in order to know that, I simply need to craft and graft like Jobs did and play and array as Munger has detailed above. What is the point of me swallowing wads of insight if I still have nothing to show as outsight.
No wonder the lights go out on us wee mortals, we want all this insight but we won’t do the prequisite work for it and spend even less time transforming it into an innovative or productive journey. If I know that in the moment I think this out but can’t hang these thoughts where they most count, then I am simply lost in the present moment. Insight therefore is most useful in the thought space that Munger and Jobs created for their imagination, and useless in any tunnel we dig that isn’t really going anywhere.
What reading this has taught me is that imagination can be sown, but the farmer still lives above ground and does best when he works the insight ground for the good of his eventual innovative harvest. Then clearly it isn’t about the 5000 things we keep in our mind, but as I am sure Jobs and Munger may just well have recognized, the right 5000 things to connect the particles of dots and the waves of innovation that then transpire from those dots.
re munger ..
that’s why gurus are so good .. they have the widest possible lattice to hang things on
awesome Om…. especially the post conversation…. you guys rock
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