It may sound paradoxical to plan for surprises, but there are things companies can do to foster the happy accidents that lead to innovation, says management expert.
While accident implies a lack of planning, a University of Alberta business professor says organizations can be proactive in managing the serendipity that leads to accidental innovation.
“As scholars of innovation and management, it became clear to us that there are organizational processes and practices that both foster and harness happy accidents,” said Joel Gehman, Francis Winspear Associate Professor of Business at the U of A, who worked with colleagues from the United States and France to study examples of how happy accidents were fostered by a culture of serendipity.
“The punchline was that, while you cannot schedule innovation, you certainly can organize for it—and against it.”
The team reviewed a number of accidental discoveries, such as how Corning turned a century of glass and ceramic expertise into the development o...