November 14, 2010
Innovation as a Happy Accident

A little known fact about innovation is that many breakthroughs have not been the result of genius, but "happy accidents" -- those surprise moments when an answer revealed itself for no particular reason.

The discovery of penicillin, for example, was the result of Alexander Fleming noting the formation of mold on the side of petri dish left uncleaned overnight.

Vulcanized Rubber was discovered in 1839 when Charles Goodyear accidentally dropped a lump of the polymer substance he was experimenting with onto his wife's cook stove.

More recently, 3M's post-it was also the result of an accident in the lab.

Breakthroughs aren't always about invention, but the intervention required, by the aspiring innovator, to notice something new, unexpected, and intriguing.

WHAT TO DO:

1. Think about a recent project, pilot, or business of yours that did not turn out the way you expected.

2. Ask yourself if any of the unexpected results offer you a clue or insight about how you might proceed differently.

3. Instead of interpreting your results as "failure," consider the fact that the results are simply nature's way of getting you to see something new -- something that merits further exploration.


Excerpted from Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at November 14, 2010 02:59 PM

Comments

There are a lot of accidents that happen around us every day. The innovator recognizes the "accident" as something potentially useful and moves on that intuition. That innovator had his/her mind prepared for the "accident" and in fact was looking for it. Accidents that become innovations are no accident.

Posted by: Sparky [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 14, 2010 08:08 AM

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