Error in Adrenaline Sensitivity Research Leads to Wharton Digital Press “Brilliant Mistakes” Contest First Place Win

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Second place goes to ill-prepared children’s performer who found profits in improv

Entrants were challenged to submit an error that they committed and recognized as a potential source of learning or innovation

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania announces Dr. Stephen Salzman of UCLA Medical Center is the grand prize winner of Wharton Digital Press’ “Brilliant Mistakes” contest. In partnership with media sponsor Inc.com, winners were announced today, marking the conclusion of a three-month challenge.

Three finalists’ submissions were reviewed by judges, including faculty from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, John Seely Brown, Co-Chair, Deloitte Center for the Edge, Inc.com Editor Eric Schurenberg, and the inspiration for the contest, Paul Schoemaker, PhD and author of “Brilliant Mistakes: Finding Success on the Far Side of Failure” (Wharton Digital Press). Entrants were challenged to submit an error that they committed and recognized as a potential source of learning or innovation, and then leveraged as a new concept or idea that helped transform a project or organization.

Dr. Salzman explained in his submission that throughout his medical career he believed that athletes, with lower heart rates, must be less sensitive to the effects of adrenaline. To prove his hypothesis correct, he conducted blinded research. Much to his surprise, the exact opposite proved to be true, forever changing his perspective, not only in the area of adrenaline, but throughout cardiology.

The second place winner, Annie Banannie, was awarded an Invitation to an SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management conference. A performer for children, her entry detailed how insufficient preparation led to her best performance ever. She didn’t have her props, so she had to make up a story on the spot in front of an audience of 200. Because of the “mistake,” Annie is incorporating more improvisation into her act, one that is more successful than it ever.

According to Paul Schoemaker, some errors – referred to as “portals of discovery” – can lead to game-changing innovation. “We were pleasantly surprised by the wide range of examples submitted,” said Schoemaker. “It is difficult to mine mistakes for learnable moments or innovative ideas; these winners exemplify what can happen when an organization encourages extracting the most from mistakes.”

Matthew Lynch, the third place winner, explained that while working to identify Medicare fraud, he realized that only focusing on higher-than-average claims (conventional wisdom) was insufficient. With a team of others, he uncovered fraud activity by individuals and corporations who were uniquely adept at defrauding the system. The successes found in Matthew’s operation became an industry best-practice. He will share a lunch with Paul Schoemaker at the Wharton School.

Dr. Salzman’s prize includes two round-trip tickets on Southwest Airlines to anywhere in the continental United States and a Wharton Executive Education course. In addition, he will receive a complimentary registration for Inc's Growco conference and an Invitation to Wharton Mack Center for Technological Innovation Conference.

The top ten entrants received a signed paperback copy of Brilliant Mistakes. To learn more about the book visit the Wharton Digital Press Web site: Brilliant Mistakes: Finding Success on the Far Side of Failure.

About the Wharton School and Wharton Digital Press

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania— founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school — is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. The most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world, Wharton bridges research and practice through its broad engagement with the global business community. The School has more than 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 9,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and an alumni network of 88,000 graduates.

Wharton Digital Press was launched in collaboration with Knowledge@Wharton, by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, as an innovative all-digital publishing initiative that publishes relevant, accessible and empirically based business knowledge to readers wherever and whenever they need it.

Wharton Digital Press brings together communities of readers and authors committed to identifying and solving the critical problems business managers face today. Leveraging a wide range of cutting-edge digital technologies, Wharton Digital Press helps inspire authors to develop bold, insightful messages, and communicate in creative ways with their audiences. Managers and policy makers need new sources of innovative and practical knowledge that will enable them to deal with the problems of the present and the challenges of the future. Wharton Digital Press takes advantage of the Wharton School’s global presence to disseminate relevant business knowledge from the world’s leading experts to readers wherever and whenever they need it. Wharton Digital Press’s eBooks and print-on-demand books are distributed by Constellation, a service of the Perseus Books Group.

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