The Sources Of Innovation

Peter Drucker, in his book Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Harper-Business, 1985), writes that the greatest business breakthroughs take place as the result of "either the unexpected success or the unexpected failure."

He explains that when something unusual or unexpected happens in any field, the average person dismisses it as a random event or as an accident. The superior person, however, studies each unexpected result as if it were a sign of an underlying trend or an indication of a fundamental change in the nature of things.

When an experiment in growing bacteria failed because a mold had blown across the laboratory and landed on the petri dish, killing the bacteria, the lab assistants were about to throw it out. However, a bacteriologist, Alexander Fleming, became curious about a mold that was so powerful that it could kill such strong bacteria. His research led to the discovery and development of penicillin, which saved millions of lives in World War II and won him both a knighthood and the Nobel prize.

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