It is a fact that certain companies’ most valuable assets are nothing else but their mistakes. There are, however, two types of mistakes – the right kind of mistakes and the wrong kind of mistakes.
Let us elaborate.
The right kind of mistakes:
- In the winter of 1939, Charles Goodyear marched into Woburn’s general store in Massachusetts to show off his latest sample of rubber. Utterly excited for this new substance, Goodyear accidentally dropped it on a hot stove. Instead of melting, the sample charred like leather – Goodyear’s slip had helped him make the first weatheproof rubber.
- Chocolate chip cookies also came to existence by accident during the 1930s, thanks to Ruth Graves Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts. One day, while preparing a batch of traditional cookies, Ruth decided to add pieces of sweet chocolate to the doe, expecting them to melt while baking and turn the regular cookies into chocolate cookies. To her great surprise, the pieces of chocolate held their shape, but softened to a creamy texture, and resulted into the great chocolate-chip-cookie creation!
- The famous Viagra, which has been making men (and women) happy for years, is based on a drug that was initially tested for use in high blood pressure and angina pectoris. The drug had little effect on these conditions, but it turned out that it made other aspects of the body “healthier.” So, in 1996, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer decided to forget about treating angina and patent the drug as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.
The wrong kind of mistakes:
- Quentin Tarantino asked Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich to have dinner and discuss his next movie Kill Bill. Tarantino explained to Ulrich that he had written and choreographed the two main fight scenes in the movie to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and “Sad but True.” But when Ulrich read the script, he found himself utterly puzzled, and never got back to Tarantino. Wrong mistake – Kill Bill turned out to be a brilliant piece of cinematographic work!
- Sheets Energy Strips, a product meant to be placed in one’s mouth and enhance one’s energy, has come up with what’s possibly the worst campaign of 2011 and a great candidate for worst campaign of all time. Don’t get us wrong – we’re all about word play, but we honestly believe that no one would “take a sheet right on stage,” or any other public place for that matter.
As a company or as an individual, you may not make an amazing unintentional discovery and make it to the great hall of fame brought about by successful mistakes. But you’re probably going to make a lot of them anyway. And, through that process, you will learn that every single mistake will make you think, will turn something upside down, and it will lead you to an unexpected result, to a new place, to a lesson, to a brand new idea, to opportunities that you couldn’t even imagine.
It is up to you to try to avoid the unavoidable, or turn results that you cannot predict into exciting outcomes that have the potential to bring about something absolutely brilliant.
But what do we know? We only named our agency after situations like that .