Entrepreneurs are a bit like atom smashers. They provoke and harness collisions, what I term attractive accidents.

▪ They know how to bring together and constructively confront people in different disciplines and often with opposing mindsets in a way that yields productive energy. The skilled entrepreneur knows, for example, that a solid business requires both marketing ingenuity and financial disciple. He or she demands that new programs satisfy both ends.

▪ Make time stop. When a fender bender happens, people climb out of their vehicles and assess the impact. The experience compels us to freeze the moment. In a free exchange of ideas, an utterly new concept may sail through the window. Too often we let these gems whiz on by without a second thought.

▪ Post results. In the process of following up an idea, an entirely different new direction may occur to someone. Find ways through message boards to post ideas. Perhaps house them in such categories as:

■ What consumers always ask for and we never seem to be able to give them.

■ What consumers are asking for today that they weren’t after two months ago.

■ Our competitors’ worst operating problems we don’t exploit.

Message boarding could be the most productive collective graffiti your company has ever seen.

▪ Return to the scene of the crime. Did you stumble on a brilliant strategic innovation chiefly by accident? Analyze the sequence and figure out how it happened. Often it isn’t accident at all but the quirky abandonment of an assumption or the off-the-wall insight of a gifted observer. What can you re-create? When brilliant accidents happen, repeat offenses can be priceless!