In 1911, an interview with The Century magazine asked Thomas Edison, "Do you think that our ideas have to be closely connected to our work to be useful?" Edison responded, "All kinds of ideas help to set the mind going. If a man has enough ideas to be an inventor, he can turn the same force in another direction, if he wishes to, and be a businessman, an architect or anything." Maybe even a poet?

An increased rate of change has caused our world to become ever more fragmented and disconnected. Existing connections are either forgotten or shattered when new, disruptive technologies emerge. As such, the greater the rate of opportunity for making connections, the more tools you need on your creative tool belt. One of Edison's most surprising tools for creativity was poetry.

Edison made connections between his inventions all the time. The phonograph was really just an offshoot--that is, a metaphor--of the duplicating telegraph. The motion picture was connected to the phonograph. Regarding the motion picture, Edison said, "I want to do for the eye what the phonograph did for the ears." Robert Frost, one of America's best-known poets, wrote, "There are many such things I have found myself saying about poetry, but the chiefest of these is that it is a metaphor, saying one thing in terms of another." In other words, doing for the eye what the phonograph did for the ear.

Excerpted from At Work With Thomas Edison: 10 Business Lessons From America's Greatest Innovator