The Accidental Creativist

NASA scientists surmise that this photo of Martian soil laced with silica could be the remnants of an ancient hot spring. Yes, Virgina, there was a Perrier plant on the red planet.

This discovery came about unexpectedly as the result of a mechanical failure.

Both Spirit and its twin rover Opportunity completed their original three-month missions in April 2004, and are aging. One of Spirit’s six wheels no longer rotates, gouging a deep impression as it drags through soil. That scraping has exposed several patches of bright soil, leading to some of Spirit’s biggest discoveries in its Gusev Crater exploration site, including the most recent find.

Here’s a short list of fortuitous creations from a Harvard Business School publication, the ‘Accidental Innovator’::

anesthesia cellophane cholesterol lowering drugs
cornflakes dynamite the ice cream soda
Ivory soap NutraSweet nylon
penicillin photography rayon
PVC smallpox vaccine stainless steel

Accidental innovation is only one small segment of the following counterintuitive approach to a conservative business model.

*Release: A method of control that accepts wide variation within known parameters. Release contrasts with restraint, the usual method of industrial control.

*Collaboration: The quality exhibited by conversation, in language and behavior, during which each party, released from vanity, inhibition, and preconceptions, treats the contributions of other parties as material to make with, not as positions to argue with, so that new and unpredictable ideas emerge.

* Ensemble: The quality exhibited by the work of a group dedicated to collaboration in which individual members relinquish sovereignty over their work and thus create something none could have made alone: a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

* Play: The quality exhibited by a production while it is playing for an audience; or, the quality exhibited by interaction among members of a business group, and ultimately between the group and the customer.

From ‘Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work‘ by Rob Austin and Lee Devin.

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