Agile entrepreneurs know how to tinker under pressure . . . without feeling that pressure as an inhibiting force. There is something rather bold and defiant about someone facing a deadline or a seemingly insoluble problem, who channels their adrenalin to find a totally fresh solution. So too is someone who tinkers a spanking new solution to a problem that hadn’t even been formulated.

In Steven Fenichell’s classic Plastic, he recounts how photographic pioneer George Eastman faced financial pressures caused by a bad batch of gelatin coating on glass photographic plates. It spurred Eastman to move away from glass plates altogether and to introduce flexible roll film.

Braille is built on raised dots in a multi-position matrix. According to innovation expert Charles Panati, approaches in printing for the blind existed before Louis Braille developed his system. But, they all worked on embossed letters and were terribly slow at communicating information. Braille became intrigued with a raised-dot approach to “night-writing, which the French army” used to encode messages in wartime. Streamlining the approach even further, the foundation of modern braille was born.

Tinkering often allows you to operate in a playful mode. That playfulness can be itself essential. A mind that feels tightly constrained with rigidly walled-in options will operate with unimaginative routine. I have said before that our personal radar may be the most amazing element of a human’s being’s innate creative technology. When we are defensive, that radar ceases to receive opportunistic signals from the world around us.