Some peo­ple rou­tine­ly lose the remote con­trol for their enter­tain­ment devices. Why not have a Blue­tooth-enabled stick­er that will track it via your smart­phone, even set­ting off a buzzer or red light just in case it’s super well-hid­den? Ah, it would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Some peo­ple dream about unique ways to light their homes or offices, light­ing them in ways that sur­pass the options pro­vid­ed by incan­des­cent-flu­o­res­cent-even LED bulbs. Why not invent plas­tic that glows bright when an elec­tric cur­rent pass­es through it. Then, you could shape such plas­tic any way that fits the needs of any space or con­text. Ah, it would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Ever since peo­ple became hooked on rolling lug­gage, some have won­dered if such a spe­cial inven­tion could be even bet­ter. Like how? Like, how about lug­gage that you don’t have to pull or hold because — via sen­sors — it fol­lows you and your smart­phone much like a well-trained dog might. Ah, it would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Yeah, you say: those are dreams that are about as real­is­tic as auto­mo­tive tyres that inflate them­selves auto­mat­i­cal­ly so you nev­er have to wor­ry about that annoy­ing trans­porta­tion­al to-do. Ah, that, too, would be nice, wouldn’t it?

imaginationAnd all of the above ideas would not only be nice, they are real, they are here, and they are part of a great two-part series recent­ly issued by Smithsonian.com: The Best Inven­tions of 2012 You Haven’t Heard of Yet (Part 1) and The Best Inven­tions of 2012 You Haven’t Heard of Yet (Part 2).

There’s an impor­tant nextsens­ing les­son in all these inven­tions: no mat­ter your cur­rent mar­ket­place posi­tion or advan­tage, and no mat­ter how good you (think you) are, some­one — some­where (and not any­more just in a Sil­i­con Val­ley garage) — is prob­a­bly work­ing on an idea that will fun­da­men­tal­ly dis­rupt your world. It is not sim­ply about some­one inside your firm invent­ing an odd niche prod­uct or ser­vice occa­sion­al­ly. Rather, it’s about the need for a healthy degree of rest­less­ness that must be estab­lished and main­tained by lead­ers in every organ­i­sa­tion because there will be a new way of doing things soon­er rather than lat­er, and it would be nice if your firm had a hand in a few of the big­ger and strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant new things.

In dis­rup­tive times, alert­ness to new prob­lems and new pos­si­bil­i­ties is today´s equiv­a­lent to “neces­si­ty is the moth­er of inven­tion”. It all starts with alert­ness to people’s wants and needs. Great oppor­tu­ni­ties flow from there. Imag­ine that.

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