How to Turn A Nasty Surprise Into the Next Disruptive Idea

Most companies view surprises as things to be avoided. Even positive surprises are considered fortunate anomalies, far from being the cornerstone of any real strategy. The underlying assumption is that predictability and control are good, and uncertainty is bad. No wonder every management book on Amazon with the word “surprise” in its title is about how to prevent the phenomenon. But here’s the counterintuitive catch: If you want a breakthrough, something that really changes the game, surprise is actually the name of the game.

The premise is simple: Breakthroughs surprise the market with something dramatically new. Think Apple, Netflix, Cirque du Soleil, or OpenTable. That’s the no-brainer.

But here’s the management mind-bender. Breakthroughs – whether products, services, business models or business processes – don’t come from big visions, bold goals, and meticulous plans. While these may be starting points, many leaders acknowledge that unexpected experiences actually play pivotal roles in their breakaway successes.

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