It’s the middle of the night and you’ve awaken in a cold sweat. You jump out of bed, pinching yourself to make sure that you are not still dreaming. Fully aware of reality, and not caring that it’s 3 a.m., you grab your cell phone and text your business partner – I’ve done it! I’ve come up with the next big idea!
You’ve probably had the feeling before, a euphoric one of discovery that comes after working on a project for days, and then randomly having the solution come to you when your mind was distracted. True, the feeling is invigorating and even thrilling, but is reliable? Do you consistently get these ideas, and are you able to discover solutions on demand or are you relying on serendipity?
There were quite a number of inventions discovered by chance. The 3M post it notes, for example, came into being after the stronger adhesive the company planned to create didn’t work. By following the principle of Function Follows Form, and asking themselves what was the benefit of having glue that wasn’t very sticky, the staff at 3M came upon the post it note.
Basketball is another example of an invention by chance. James Naismith, a teacher at Springfield College, was looking for an indoor winter sport to motivate his students. He took 2 peach baskets and hung them from the bleachers. He created the game, but each time the ball went in the bucket, someone had to fetch it out. Eventually, after the ball fell in the bucket enough times, a hole formed at the bottom. Realizing that a basket without a bottom is a much better component for the game, basketball was created.
Although these stories have happy endings, most of them do not. SIT provides us with templates to innovate on demand and not wait for chance. Relying on serendipity is not only a waste of time, but it is also risky. When we rely on luck, we are putting ourselves in the passenger seat, and wait for our fate to take a positive turn. Using a proven method of creative discovery will allow us to reach desired results on our own time.