Some of the entrepreneurs of our time haven’t been the inventors we believe them to be. It’s not a criticism, entrepreneurship goes far beyond inventing and ideas. In fact some of our most revered entrepreneurs are simply good at cross fertilization.
Let’s take Steve Jobs for example. He didn’t invent the GUI (Graphical User Interface), the mouse, icons, paint, folders or any of the ‘user friendly’ things that Apple became famous for.
He ‘borrowed ideas’. By looking at related categories Jobs was able to adopt new thinking and bring it to his market in a way that made sense. He was a great normative thinker. The best example of Jobs in action was when he was invited into the Xerox PARC office for a study tour to ‘share knowledge’. In essence, they gave Jobs the key to their kingdom. This is where Jobs vision of the future of the personal computer grew from.
The first GUI was on a Xerox office workstation called the Alto. Closely followed by the Xerox Star in 1977 – see picture below.
The trip to Xerox by Apple computer’s Steve Jobs in 1979 led to the graphical user interface and mouse being integrated into the Apple’s Lisa and, later, the first Macintosh.
Jobs borrowed ideas, ideas born in a photocopier company.
Ebay took the excitement and quick sale of the auction process from real estate.
Craigslist made an electronic web based newspaper classified.
So the question begs to all entrepreneurs, what new technologies, ideas or systems can we borrow from adjacent industries?