This Domain-Level Guide is designed to be used based on the Core Model. Please refer to the Celebrate Anomalies Core Practice before exploring this guide.
Many organizations treat unexpected results that don’t align with predefined goals as failures. Some of them don’t accept them as a natural part of creative activities. This approach eventually leads to favoring proven solutions and fail-safe methods, both of which are Creativity-killers.
Some organizations do accept anomalies as an integral part of meaningful activities but use them to learn how to make fewer mistakes and get better, more predictable results next time.
Creative individuals and organizations treat anomalies as opportunities. For innovative organizations, anomalies are not merely side-effects of Creativity, even if they seem to be a step backward from a predefined short-term target. When anomalies are treated as Experiences, they can become an essential ingredient in future creations or even the key to a potential breakthrough.
The first step toward making the most out of anomalies is to acknowledge and record them. You cannot know when an unexpected outcome you achieved today will become valuable. In another context, the same result can become the missing piece of the puzzle.
- Record unexpected outcomes and events in the Collective Mind-Pantry.
- Take some time to marvel at them, even if you can’t see any use for them at the moment.
Turn Anomalies into Opportunities
After recording anomalies, it is time to play with them and actively try to turn them into opportunities. Acknowledging their potential is a precondition — you have to be in a mindset that frames these anomalies as valuable, even if the concrete value is still unclear.
- Use unexpected outcomes as opportunities to explore new playgrounds, regardless of their impact on predefined goals and targets.
- Play with them in the context of developing new products, features, services, processes, and practices.
- If, after playing with these unexpected anomalies, you don’t see a concrete opportunity in them today, revisit them again in the future.
Share Anomalies with Wider Circles
Reframing an undesired outcome as an opportunity is not trivial. You are likely to be biased toward your predefined goal. Therefore, it is essential to spread the word and share the anomaly with people working in different contexts, toward other objectives, and from various disciplines. What seems to be a mishap to you might be a treasure to someone else, working on a different challenge.
- Share the anomalies you have recorded with wider circles throughout the organization and (if possible) beyond.
The unexpected behavior of a product under development can be considered a defect in one context while introducing incredible value in a different context. Record such a behavior (even if you have to fix it in the short term) and share it with the team and beyond. Someone might see the value in this anomaly and use it in another product or trigger a new feature in the product you are working on.
One of the most famous examples of the value of such an anomaly is the invention of Post-It® Notes. The super-light glue, which is the unique characteristic of this product, was invented by accident as part of an attempt to develop a super-strong adhesive for entirely different purposes.
Celebrate “failures” collectively by doing a failure roadshow. Demonstrate to different people in the organization the undesired outcome you managed to produce, not to learn from it, but to make use of it.
- Record and Reflect
- Form Collective Feedback Loops (coming soon)
- Value the Journey (coming soon)