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Serendipity is inherently appealing because its outcomes are inevitably pleasant. But although it is nice to have around, it is almost impossible to channel because those outcomes are usually the result of a lucky accident. However, it can be harnessed if you deliberately prepare your mind

Three Princes of Serendip

Serendipity is a nice word. It contains the promise of exotic adventure, with a dose of mystery thrown in. This great word became part of our vocabulary as far back as 1754 when it was coined by Horace Walpole who was taken by a myth about three princes of Serendip (which we know nowadays as Sri Lanka). …


Problem-solving can be approached strategically and innovatively. There are three fertile ways of conquering the problem cause. If they don’t work, focusing on the problem effect opens up another vista of opportunities

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Whenever we are blocked from doing something we want to do, naturally we turn our attention to the problem that is holding us back. It’s the most logical thing in the world. We don’t want the effect, so we set to work on the cause.

What is not so obvious is how to tackle the problem. Usually we use a ‘shotgun’ approach. Just think of something. Anything. Start brainstorming. The more ideas the better. Maybe one will work? …


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Both ancient history and modern times abound with examples of striking, innovative ideas that emerge when people’s customary behavior is severely constrained

The emergence of Covid-19 resulted in an almost unprecedented impact on the people of the world. The list of human activities that has been curtailed is a very long one, compelling responses ranging from outright cessation to avoidance to practical compromise. Whatever the impact, change has been enforced on much of how we live, on how we get things done.

A natural human reaction is that this cannot possibly be a good thing. It’s like having one arm tied behind your back. Complete freedom to utilize all of our faculties, without constraint, is self-evidently the sure path to progress is it not? If you need a good, practical idea for something, the common worldview is to throw off all shackles and allow your thinking the freedom to roam anywhere. …


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Albert Einstein is credited with saying: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. It follows logically that if you don’t understand something well, you will struggle to do anything worthwhile with it.

This observation certainly applies to the realm of innovation. It is rarely explained simply. People’s understanding of innovation is usually diffuse and vague which makes intentional innovative behavior difficult. As attractive as being able to innovate might be, it remains an elusive skill for many of us.

But, while the common views of innovation may be indistinct, it does not follow that the practice of it is inevitably elusive. Peter Drucker, the late American management guru, was a passionate advocate of a proactive approach to innovation. Among his many observations about innovation, he said It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced.He went on to say that “one needs to know and apply the principles of successful…

About

John Purdie-Smith

Creator of Sebir.com — a large vault of curated ideas that have innovatively solved typical business problems

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