A solid, high-potential, innovative idea for a new product may not be recognized as such at the start. So, don’t laugh at any idea until it has been carefully examined.
As Knowledge@Wharton reports: “At Reebok, the cushioning in a best-selling basketball shoe reflects technology borrowed from intravenous fluid bags. Semiconductor firm Qualcomm’s revolutionary color display technology is rooted in the microstructures of the Morpho butterfly’s wings. And at IDEO, developers designed a leak-proof water bottle using the technology from a shampoo bottle top. These examples show how so-called ‘peripheral’ knowledge — that is, ideas from domains that are seemingly irrelevant to a given task — can influence breakthrough innovation. ‘The central idea of peripheral knowledge really resonates,’ says Wharton management professor Martine Haas. After all, who can’t think of examples when ideas that seemed to bear almost no relation to a given problem paid off in some unexpected way? By bringing peripheral knowledge to core tasks, it is well known that work groups can recombine ideas in novel and useful ways. But the problem, Haas notes, is primarily one of attention: How do you get workers focused on a particular task to notice — and make use of — seemingly irrelevant information?”
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