Creativity is just Connecting Things



Flywheel Winston-Salem’s open coworking space



There’s many myths that surround entrepreneurship. One of the many being that creativity and innovation are cognitive skills that entrepreneurs are born with. That’s simply not true. What many great innovators such as Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs possessed were behaviors and skills that can be learned and implemented on a day to day basis. 

Flywheel’s, “How to Find Your Startup” course helps participants engage with ideas and methods that great innovators have. The course uses literature and teachings from expert authors on innovation and how it can be learned. One of the books used in the course is, The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, written by Deff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen. The book focuses on the behaviors of those such as Bezos and Jobs and teaches readers how to execute these skills.

Before engaging in these skills, innovators begin by having the courage to innovate. Taking risks and challenging the status quo are necessary to engage in these five skills. Innovator’s are willing to embrace change and take risks to make change happen. These behaviors then lead to these five skills of innovation:


Questioning: Innovators question the status quo. They look at the world around them and see the things that can be improved. They’re constantly thinking about solutions for the problems that they see around them. David Neelman, founder of JetBlue and Azul airlines has a long time practice of asking himself, “Why don’t they do it this other way?” 

Observing: Innovators are constantly observing the world around them. This includes customers, products, services, technologies and companies. These observations help them gain insight and new ideas. Starbucks founder Howard Schultz stumbled upon the idea for the coffee shop chain while in Milan walking to a trade show. He observed the comfort and community these establishments offered to regulars.

Networking: When Steve Jobs was chatting with a colleague, he was referred to Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray, founders of Pixar, then known as Industrial Light & Magic. He bought it for $10 million and then took it public for $1 billion. If he had never chatted with his colleague, we would have never purchased Pixar and the world may never have known of hits like Toy Story and Up.

Experimenting: Constantly putting new ideas into play and trying out new experiences is one of the ways Innovators engage in finding methods that work. Jeff Bezos may have changed the landscape of retail as we know it, he also consistently adds new products and ideas under Amazon. Kindle and Alexa are two names just as synonymous as the name Amazon. 


These four skills combined help the skill of association. The more diverse knowledge that the brain possesses, the more connections it can make when it learns new information. You’ll be able to make connections that others do not see, which is why innovators are able to find solutions to existing problems. 

So, after figuring out that these are the five things that people like Larry Page and Elon Musk do, what’s next? It’s important to also learn how to implement these five skills into your daily life. Our “How to Start a Startup,” course dives into ways you can begin innovating on a day to day basis. To learn more about the course and how to register visit: the page. First class begins on February 19th at 5:30pm. 

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