Andrew Hargadon, a friend and innovative thinker, teaches at UC Davis and writes on topics of invention and innovation.  Read an interview with him and then subscribe to his blog.  Every business person should know him.

William Gibson was once asked how he came up with his amazing visions of the future for his science fiction novels. His answer was, “The future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.” He finds small groups of people doing revolutionary things and then imagines what it would be like if everybody was doing those things. In many ways, our approach to innovation and creativity is misguided when we carry around these lay theories of the Great Man and look for ideas that never existed before. We try to come up with something that nobody’s ever thought of and we try to do it by ourselves. When you embrace Gibson’s approach or definition, you realize that the real trick to coming up with a creative idea is to go out and find it. Find somebody else who’s already doing it and find out where you can use it again. It’s a whole different motivation. In fact, it turns it into a search process.