Accident Innovation :)

HBS Working Knowledge has an excellent article on Accident Innovation with author Sarah Jane Gilbert

Companies spend many hundreds of billions of dollars on R&D each year, but the microwave oven was conceived from a melted candy bar, saccharin from an accidental chemical spill, and the Daguerre photo process via a shattered thermometer. Accidents happen—and we’re all better off because they do.

Q: Is there a way innovators can encourage good accidents? In other words, is there anything we can control to foster this process?

A:In 1960, a guy named [Donald] Campbell proposed that we think of creativity as “Random variation + Selective Retention.” That is, we need two processes, one to generate things we can’t think of in advance, and another to figure out which of the things we generate are valuable and are worth keeping and building upon.

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