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2009 Vol.3
Serendipity and Management of Technology

2009/07/01

Many hints of good ideas are hidden in ordinary scenes of our daily lives – in the handling of customer questions, conversations with friends, experiences from travels, and routine business operations. The wordgserendipityhis associated with the ability to recognize chance encounters from such hints and change them to fortunate, productive events. This article discusses serendipitous discoveries, using examples from various research and business fields. As Peter Drucker argues, unanticipated behavior by unexpected customers could lead to the success of a business. However, we should not merely wait for the advent of fortunate events. We need to have a framework to capture and take advantage of unexpected events, thereby gaining from serendipitous discoveries.
Citing examples, this article examines issues faced by Japanese companies and ideal methods of management of technology (MOT) education, which is highly anticipated in the training of workers to solve such issues in this era of a once-in-a-century economic crisis, increased globalization, low birth rates and aging population, and global-scale structural changes in industries. This article emphasizes the need to create product concepts by interpreting MOT in terms of converting technology to profits and by incorporating the idea that engineers must explore ideas like a novice but execute them as an expert. Gaining from serendipitous discoveries requires tireless attention to and information collection on market changes, such as the behavior of invisible customers,which are happening in a wide variety of technical fields. It is becoming increasingly important for Japanese companies to anticipate such changes and gain capabilities to create product concepts themselves. Whether or not a company can take advantage of serendipitous discoveries is also extremely critical in creating new businesses.

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