Get better ideas by interacting with others with different ideas

One secret to innovation is to interact with people who differ from you and are outside your closer network:

The tendency of people to seek out insights from people in different fields, different organizations or of different mindsets is called “brokerage” and has been carefully studied by academics.

It can lead to better ideas, better promotions, and better salaries — whether you work in product design, contracting or finance…

But if you’re charged with innovation, you need to branch out and build brokerage, said Ronald Burt, the Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

“It’s essential,” Burt said. “The new ideas we come up with come from the places where we vary. A person who only knows about the variation in what they do will get better at what they’re doing, but will always come to the same place.”

Burt goes on to discuss how people need two sets of connections: close ones (which helps provide closure) and a few regular connections with distant people (weak ties) who will provide you with different perspectives outside your close group. This all emphasizes the power of social networks: information (as well as other things like motions) can be passed through a network through the social connections.

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