What can Proctor and Gamble teach us about business

This is long so feel free to skip it.

Proctor and Gamble had a problem: it needed a new floor cleaner.
In the 1980s, the company had pioneered one lucrative consumer product after another, from pull-up diapers to anti-dandruff shampoo. It had developed colour-safe detergent and designed a quilted paper towel that could absorb 85 percent more liquid than other paper towels. These innovations weren’t lucky accidents: Proctor and Gamble was deeply invested in research and development. At the time, the corporation had more scientists on staff than any other company in the world, more PhDs than the faculties of MIT, UC-Berkley, and Harvard combined.

And yet, despite the best efforts of the chemists in the house-hold-cleaning division, there were no new floor products in the pipeline. The company was still selling the same lemon-scentend detergents and cloth mops; consumers were still sweeping up their kitchens using wooden brooms and metal dustpans. The reason for this creative failure was simple: it was extremely difficult to make a stronger floor cleaner that didn’t also damage the floor. Although Proctor and Gamble had invested millions of dollars in a new generation of soaps, these products tended to fail during rigorous testing phase, as they peeled off wood varnishes and irrupted delicate skin. The chemists assumed that they had exhausted the chemical possibilities.

That’s win Proctor and Gamble decided to try a new approach. The company outsourced its innovation needs to Continuum, a design firm with offices in Boston and Los Angeles. “I think P and G came to us because their scientists were telling them to give up,” says Harry West, a leader on the soap team and now Continuum’s CEO. “So they told us to think crazy, to try to come up with something that all those chemists couldn’t.”
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The above is an excerpt from Jonah Lehrer’s new book titled Imagine.
The super-succesfull solution Continuum ultimately designed for P&G we now know as the Swiffer.

My 2¢:
Let me take a guess: Just like P & G, you too could use some new business building ideas.
Who will you talk to about new business building ideas?