Thursday, June 22, 2006


"Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean
it's useless."

Thomas A. Edison (1847 - 1931)

History is full of inventions which ended up being used for entirely
different purposes than originally intended.

Let's start with a bit of humor. Viagra, the virility increasing pill for
men, was developed because the drug composition showed promises to address some
heart ailments. During the development, things changed. It started become
clear that this drug was not going to be very useful to treat heart ailments. Some
innovative souls experimented and found that it could treat some other
'organ' very effectively. They changed the direction of their research.
After a few year, viola, one of the most successful drugs in medical
history to address some real problem of certain people.

Other example is "Post It" notes that have become so ubiquitous. The adhesive
that is used at the back of "Post it" notes was considered as a failure as it
did not meet the required criteria when developed. It did not have enough
strength. But, lack of adhesiveness was exactly what makes "Post it" so useful.
3M company created a long lasting cash cow.

After having realized these kind of things, some companies such as 3M,
Rubbermaid, Google and many others encourage people to try out a lot of
things even if they do not seem to be in line with company's strategy. It is
also not uncommon among drug companies to have a plan B for intended use
right from the beginning. It only makes sense as the money goes into new
drug development is in billions of dollars.

Always look for utility value. Recycling everything possible should be the

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