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Creativity is Disruption

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A few days ago…

I was sitting in the Intel café chatting with a principal engineer (PE) about disruptive players in the tech industry. Apple, Google, and Amazon came up during our conversation…

 A few years ago…

Apple, was a computer (only) company, Google was a search engine, and Amazon was an online bookstore.


Apple is a major player in MP3 devices, services, and mobile phones. Google expanded its business to include email, maps, AdSense, and Android. And Amazon is a consumer electronics and cloud computing services corporation. What’s more is these companies are, still, highly relevant and keep the public on their toes about what’s coming next.

I sat and listened to the PE, as he shared his thoughts about how Intel might learn to be more disruptive and I drew my own silent conclusions. We wondered, “ …what did *these*companies have that others didn’t?  (like Sony, AOL, Microsoft and the-like, perhaps better propositioned for success in such markets)  What gave them their strategic advantage?”

The answer seemed clear. These companies took risks. They thought creatively. They imagined ideas beyond their bread ‘n’ butter and beyond their expertise.

Risk-taking and out-of-the-box thinking are essential tools for solving problems and engineering extraordinary solutions.  It is how Intel became a leading semiconductor company and how I envision we will continue to revolutionize technology.


It is like martial arts master Bruce Lee once said, “…there are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” In this way, I believe Intel can learn from companies—like Apple, Google, and Amazon—to push, grow, and test our own boundaries. Intel is widely known as a chip maker, and we’re damn good at it. On the other hand, we are a gaining ground in the software and services industry—an idea perhaps more nascent (or even non-existent) to the general public. So how can we transcend our perception as the “Willy Wonka” of chip-making to include other compute areas?  I think we should apply the same principles we had as a young tech company (oh, a few decades ago) and take bigger risks, move further outside our comfort zone, and think outside of the box circle (ßsee what I did there?), and marry them with the principles we learn from other successful disruptive players.

What does the future hold? What will technology be like in five, and ten, years from now? Which companies will revolutionize the way we interact with technology? Will life feel like an episode of the Jetsons? These are all the million dollar questions many companies are working to answer. My thoughts? Intel can get there faster, better, cheaper….but not without learnin’ a thing or two from our own success and others’.

I’ve learned that most creative individuals are people with a knack for imagining what things can be and looking beyond something currently is.  Run this test:  ask five adults and five children what uses a napkin has/might have.  Chances are, more often than not, children will offer more creative examples.  Why?  Because children’s minds have not been conditioned the way adults have, and as such, have fewer constraints on objects.  So, who better to ask where technology might be in 10 years for a little inspiration than children…check out the video below.

Research@Intel 10th Anniversary: Ten 10-year-olds Talk Tech