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How to create ideas of products… and business opportunities
A lot of big inventions were discovered " by chance ".
Let's take the case of the penicillin. In 1928 the scholar
Alexander Fleming discovers it after to have forgotten a
culture of mushrooms in his laboratory. He notices a
mildew that had developed (Penicillium notatum) killed all
the bacteria around the mushrooms. 17 years later he shared
the Nobel price of medicine.
Another example, the Velcro discovery . While taking a
walk in the mountains, Georges De Mestrallet, engineer, is
irritated by the small balls of a plant that hang themselves
to its clothing and to the hairs of his dog. The tiny hooks
of the seeds of bardane that he observes to the microscope
give him the idea of the closing Velcro.
Velcro has become a multinational corporation.
There are hundreds of examples of this type as the history
of the Archimedes principle discovered in his bath, the
apple of Newton (universal gravitation) or the post-it and
its adhesive that sticks and puts back itself, etc.
These examples show that persons in contact with a
circumstance, capitalize on that by making their creativity
This astonishing faculty carries a name:
The serendipity, or the creative exploitation of the
1) The serendipity is the art to do a happy encounter and to
exploit this position to your advantage. As the history of
the Mc Donald's hamburger restaurants. Ray kroc, salesman of
milk-shake machines, fascinated by the concept, encounter
the Mc Donald's brothers, convince them to let him take care
of the franchising and some years later repurchases the
rights of their corporation for 2.7 million us dollars. You
know the continuation…
2) This is the faculty to find by chance something else that
what is looked for. As these researchers working on a
medicine destined to heal chest throat infection. They
discover a secondary one very special effect: the priapism.
You know the name of the product: the Viagra.
3) This is also the capacity to discover or invent by the
recuperation and the creative exploitation of the
consequences of an accident a priori unfortunate. As the
history of a researcher of 3-M that discovers which will
become " scotchgard " – the anti-smirch product for fabrics
of 3-M - while dropping a fluoride solution on one of her
tennis shoes. It was impossible to withdraw the spot
whatever the solvent. Phenomenal success.
Without the knowledge, I have applied myself the principle
of serendipity. That happened during the heat wave of 2003
You know, I'm teacher in a driving school. We don't have
air conditioning in the car. The boss finds it too
During 8 long hours I had to sit in an overheated car! From
12 AM to 8 PM: the hottest hours. Terrible!
Here you can see the third example of serendipity. A crisis
situation forces your creativity… If you want. But you have
to be aware of its course. Otherwise you pass by this
In order to find a solution to refresh myself, I forced my
imagination. Because I suffered terribly. Gas atomizers
are really good and refreshing but Too expensive and not
reusable. I could empty a whole gas bottle a day...
A trigger sprayer is not easy to use, particularly when
spraying your face. Moreover too bulky to carry or to place
in a reachable spot, as the door of the car.
I didn't find a little spray you can unscrew with a Jet
strong enough to spray as easy as gas atomizer. And perfume
sprays are no strong enough and too little.
I wanted a water spray supple and resistant, large enough to
use without being afraid to miss water when you need it the
most. A water spray you can choose to fill with mineral or
running water, easy to carry and so as not to feel against
your body when worn. And last but not least, a water spray
cheap and reusable.
While looking for a packing corporation,
- again a " chance " -
I fell on a manufacturer of plastic pouches that
corresponded exactly to the qualities that I looked for, for
my spray idea.
Some months later, the spray Pssshiiit was born.
How to develop your serendipity?
We are surrounded by consumer goods. Take advantage of this
abundance of products around you. Become a difficult
consumer. Criticize the products that you employ, find their
defects, and then make your creativity work so as to find a
You also can force the principle of the serendipity while
trying to find another application for a product. The
improvement of a product can be applied to other domains.
For example while looking at a biro on which was set up a
movable clip to set it up to a pocket, I thought that it
would be interesting for a manufacturer of pencils to place
one of these movable clips in the can of pencils so as to
take on yourself. In fact, a pencil never can be taken in a
pocket under penalty of to perforate it.
I think actually that while being opened to the serendipity,
while being conscious of his existence, you can provoke it.
Remain opened and attentive to its exterior demonstrations.
See how you can take advantage directly of an experience
that can appear unpleasant previously.
I am of those that do not believe in hazard. All what
surrounds us is energy. Our thoughts also are energy. You
provoke the exterior experiences that you are more useful,
good or bad. Feel free to take advantage of the experience
given to you or to let the occasion go hang…
Up to you !
You have permission to publish this article electronically
or in print, free of charge, as long as the bylines are
included. A courtesy copy of your publication would be
appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author: Aurian d'oultremont is the manager of Pssshiiit, an original
mineral water spray freshener for sunny holidays. It
combines all the advantages ( reusable, flat, cheap ) of gas
atomizers without its inconvenience ( expensive, bulky).