The Accidental Breakthrough

The Accidental BreakthroughContrary to popular belief, breakthroughs are less about the act of inventing new things than they are the art of recognizing “happy accidents” — those unexpected moments when an elegant solution reveals itself for no particular reason.

The discovery of penicillin?

The result of Alexander Fleming noticing the formation of mold on the side of a Petri dish left unattended overnight.

Vulcanized rubber?

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

The post-it? An accident in the lab. After all, 3M made adhesives — things that stick — and the post-it didn’t stick all that well.

Breakthroughs aren’t always about inventing things. They’re often about the intervention required to notice something new and surprising.

For this to happen, you’ll need to let go of your expectations and assumptions. Not to mention, ideas, concepts, beliefs, paradigms, and dinner plans.

Bottom line, you’ll need to get really curious and allow yourself the luxury of following your curiosity to the ends of the earth.

What pundits typically refer to as “brilliance” is less about IQ or enlightened vision than it is letting your eyes adjust to the available light — so you can see what’s already there.

“I invent nothing,” said Rodin. “I rediscover.”

What failed experiment of yours or unexpected outcome might be worth taking another look at?

Image Credit

Don’t miss an article – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Continuous Innovation group!


Mitch DitkoffMitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of “Awake at the Wheel”, as well as the very popular Heart of Innovation blog.

Mitch Ditkoff

NEVER MISS ANOTHER NEWSLETTER!

Categories

LATEST BLOGS

How to Win in the Disruptive Economy: A New Playbook for Success

By Greg Heist | June 4, 2021

Leo Tilman and Charles Jacoby write in their book Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a…

Read More

DEVELOPING A HUMAN-CENTRIC FUTURE-FIT FOCUS

By Janet Sernack | May 18, 2021

In a recent article “Organizing for the future: Nine keys to becoming a future-ready company” McKinsey and Co, suggested that…

Read More

Leave a Comment