My colleagues and I interviewed nearly 100 inventors of revolutionary products and services, as well as founders and CEOs of game-changing companies – people like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Intuit’s Scott Cook. We asked each entrepreneur to identify the moment when they came up with the idea for their business, and as we reflected on their answers, some clear patterns emerged.
We were able to identify five skills that distinguish these individuals: questioning, observing, networking, experimenting and associative thinking. In some cases, the idea came after they asked a question, which triggered a creative answer. Soon after amazon.com was launched, Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com was literally swimming with the dolphins in Hawaii, when he asked himself, ‘Why shouldn’t all software follow the Amazon model?’ That led to the original business model for Salesforce.com.