Steve Jobs Quote

“Creativity is just connecting things,” Apple cofounder Steve Jobs said in 1996. “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”

From “Smarter Better Faster” by Charles Duhigg.

How does this compare to your ideas of creativity?

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7 thoughts on “Steve Jobs Quote”

  1. My opinion of Jobs was he didn’t create new things as much as connected the inventions of others well. He was really good at marketing as saw computers as something that had form and not just function.

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  2. 10 Cents:
    It seemed obvious to them after a while.

    This brings up one of my theories on development. If you are looking to build a better mouse trap, it may not be the best thing  to show a mouse trap to 10 brilliant engineers and ask them to improve on it. Instead, you don’t show it to them but you ask them how they think current mouse traps work. The way one of them simply assumed obvious may turn out to be a significant improvement.

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  3. Drilling more deeply into the quote, I remark that dentists, over the years, have invented many, many of the tools of modern dentistry. Given the nature of their work and the limitations imposed by size and access, I imagine that certain things “became obvious” to them.

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  4. 10 Cents:
    (Quoting the Duhigg book) “Creativity is just connecting things,” Apple cofounder Steve Jobs said in 1996.

    I’m not sure in what context Jobs said this.  If it’s describing his own kind of creativity in designing the products and services for which he is known, he is correct.  But as a definition of creativity in general, it is utter nonsense.  There are many kinds of creativity, and most of them do not consist in connecting previously developed things together in new ways.

    Consider the fundamental technologies which underlie the Macintosh: the integrated circuit, the transistor upon which it is based, and quantum mechanics without which you cannot understand why a transistor works.  None of these were invented by “connecting things”—all were intellectual leaps which created something that did not exist before and in many cases the significance of which was unappreciated initially.  Or what about electromagnetism itself, or superconductivity, or the discovery of subatomic particles and the working out of the forces through which they interact, or the vast fields of inorganic and organic chemistry, or the discovery of anaesthetics, antiseptics, antibiotics, and vaccination in medicine, or double entry bookkeeping, or inertial guidance, or selective breeding of animals and plants, or agriculture, or money and banking, or perspective in painting and illustration, or the mechanism of colour vision, or just about everything for which a Nobel prize in the hard sciences was awarded?  “Just connecting things?”—balderdash.

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  5. John Walker:
    I’m not sure in what context Jobs said this.  If it’s describing his own kind of creativity in designing the products and services for which he is known, he is correct.  But as a definition of creativity in general, it is utter nonsense.  There are many kinds of creativity, and most of them do not consist in connecting previously developed things together in new ways.

    As a Steve Jobs fan, I totally agree with your assessment and laughed out loud at his comment because it was so typical of his personality and outlook on life.

    No, I would not compare Jobs with Picasso or Beethoven.

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  6. Rick Poach:
    At the end of the day, isn’t intelligence just “connecting things?”

    It is but creativity can be something different altogether. Go to a museum, attend a symphony, look at I.M. Pei and Frank Lloyd Wright’s work and you’ll understand my point.

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