Chapter 3. Green by Accident

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Where observation is concerned, chance favors only the prepared mind.

Louis Pasteur

Accidents don't always have to be bad. History has given us many marvelous discoveries and contributions to society that have resulted from accidents—from Coca-Cola, Viagra, and chocolate chip cookies to Teflon, X-rays, and penicillin (you can find even more accidental discoveries at Some of these contributions have had a greater impact on our culture than others; then again, it could also depend on your perspective whether the chocolate chip cookie is more important than Viagra (I'll stop right there). Anyway, the point is that in each of these cases, the accident solved a different problem than the one that it was actually intended to solve.

The genius of the inventors of these "accidents" is that they were able to recognize the unintended benefits that could be derived from their creations and transform them into something even better. They are perfect examples of the power of the often-overused phrase "thinking outside the box." It is an unteachable skill, to make simple observations and turn them into profound ones, to be able to see adjacent relevance for innovation and solve problems that deviate from the initial focus. Sir Isaac Newton may have come across the proof for gravity by accident, but once ...

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