How to bring some of Steve Jobs’ skills into the innovation process

By Reach Brands

Steve Jobs was a rare creature – a creative thinker that was also commercially aware. The reason being that the creative thinker uses right brain attributes while a commercial mind is more likely to tap into left brain attributes. Steve Jobs had the ability to not only combine form and function seamlessly but he also operated based on raw intuition and overlaid it with the rational and the logical… formidable!


In general, companies are full of commercial talents and skills. What’s lacking is the creative problem solver, the person who views problems from very different angles to others. Including creatives (whether designers, ideas or communications people) in what would seem to be the more rational, up-front stages of the innovation process does inject some ‘Jobs-like thinking’. Historically this has been the reserve for marketers, researchers and engineers.

So what makes a creative thinker and what can they add to the innovation process? These people do not think in a linear way, they create patterns to solve problems. They connect information in a random and ad hoc way, often aided by a great gut instinct. Creative thinkers have a great ability to visualise potential solutions, and quite literally see solutions in their heads. Also, unlike the right brain people, creative thinkers are far more comfortable working with limited and uncertain information which is what looking for new ideas demands! They’re happy to talk about feelings and emotions and therefore are likely to apply ideas whilst looking through the consumers’ eyes to assess how consumers’ lives can be improved or impacted on. They’re spontaneous rather than measured and therefore intuitively build on ideas that others may have, giving that all important twist that turns something from ordinary to extra-ordinary!

Creatives are mostly used to find a clever way to communicate and visualise a concrete and validated product idea i.e. towards the end of the innovation process. However, in order to help ideation, creatives should be brought in at the start of the innovation process or else you’ll be missing a trick. They will push your thinking and boundaries and increase the quantity and quality of your team’s output. Yes, of course they need to be channeled correctly but you will find that the best creatives are also highly strategic.

One of the great creative minds is no longer with us, but thinking creatively is something that can be injected and managed within the innovation process. New products need to be more than just relevant to consumers’ lives. New products need to be desired, wanted and loved… and that’s where creative thinking is essential. Just compare a Dell to a Mac… I rest my case!

By Zoe Tuttle, Strategist at Reach
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