Many products are invented accidentally. Serendipity led to the microwave oven, corn flakes, Teflon®, penicillin, fireworks, Viagra®, chocolate chip cookies, and the most famous of all accidents...the Post-it® note. The problem with serendipity is it's not predictable. It is not an innovation method one would count on for corporate growth. But there is value in serendipity if you can unlock its hidden secrets. How?
In 1891, a physical education teacher named James Naismith invented the game of basketball by nailing two peach baskets to the gymnasium walls. After the ball was thrown into a basket, someone climbed a ladder to get it out. This was annoying, so the bottom of the basket was altered to allow a stick to poke through and knock the ball out. After many games and many successful shots, the bottom fell out...literally. The peach basket bottom weakened and broke loose allowing a ball to fall completely through after a shot. The result? This simple, serendipitous invention allowed the game to be played continuously without the interruption of retrieving the ball. Basketball advanced to the worldwide game that it is today.