Innovation by Accident

Many innovations emerge out of accidents. Ken Chowder documents the history of innovations through accidents. Yet, Chowder makes this most important distinction: Accident plus reflection and observation creates innovation, not just accident alone. For instance, Eli Whitney watched a cat pull bird feathers through a birdcage. (Poor Tweety bird!) Many people have observed this phenomenon and thought nothing of it. Eli Whitney saw an idea of how to comb cotton mechanically. Much labor was saved at the expense of one little bird.

Many innovations have come from accidents. Some of them are well known. A 3M scientist spilled some chemical on her new shoes, and it did not come off. Aha! Scotchgard was invented. Also at 3M, Art ...

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