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?
With so many successful products created through serendipity, it makes you wonder whether companies can rely on it to create breakthrough products. The answer is no. Serendipity, as a method of innovation, has a very poor track record. The number of serendipitous products is a tiny percentage of the total of all products. It just doesn't yield nearly the amount of blockbuster products as you would think.
So why does it seem there are so many of them? That’s because serendipitous products are more memorable than others. We hear about them in the news media more often. Because of that, we recall more examples of serendipitous products than other inventions. So we’re fooled into thinking they must be occurring at a much higher rate. It just isn’t true.