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It's one of those buzzwordy terms currently in vogue in the tech industry. It's a hipper way of saying "not creative/disruptive". The b-school equivalent would be "thinking inside the box". For example, here's sama (president of YC)[0]:

> Very rare and extremely powerful combination: the ability to think both clearly and very non-linearly. Most people lucky to have one.

An example of nonlinear thinking by sama[1]:

> the company wanted to come visit our offices so they could make sure we were a 'real' company. At that time, we were only 5 guys. So we hired a bunch of our college friends to 'work' for us for the day so we could look larger than we actually were. It worked, and we got the contract.

As you might expect, Peter Thiel prefers to be a contrarian and use his own term for it: Zero to One[2].

0. https://www.twitter.com/sama/status/699330028404772864

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3048944

2. https://www.amazon.com/Zero-One-Notes-Startups-Future/dp/080...

Afaik the folks at F8 started the trend, I heard them use that idiom back in 2009 (F8 didn't exist yet)

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