The Adjacent Possible

Whenever a new technology or innovation emerges, whenever the world changes in some significant and fundamental way, new opportunities are created for “adjacent” ideas and innovations. What was once impossible, suddenly becomes possible.

The Adjacent Possible is “the next possible thing”

Every time the world changes in some fundamental way, every time a new technology is invented, every time our behaviours change, a series of new adjacent technologies and opportunities become possible.

The invention of the Personal Computer made the Internet possible. The internet made e-Commerce possible. e-Commerce made Amazon possible. And so on…

Looking at this in reverse: Amazon cannot exist without e-Commerce; e-Commerce cannot exist without the internet; and the internet cannot exist without computers.


Whenever the world changes or a new technology emerges, brainstorm to uncover the new “adjacent possibles” and explore the resulting opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused major changes to our society, economy, and behaviours:

  • The acceleration and adoption of online commerce;
  • Expanded delivery and fulfillment networks;
  • “Work-from-Anywhere” distributed workforces;
  • Mass adoption of video-conferencing;
  • Home schooling;
  • …and many more.

What has been enabled by these changes?
What is possible now that was not possible before?

Thinking about these questions will uncover new “adjacent possibles” that were not possible just a short time ago. These new “adjacent possibles” are the sources of new opportunities and possibilities.

From Impossible to Adjacent Possible

Take an impossible idea and ask what “adjacent” technologies are needed to make this idea possible. If these adjacent technologies are also impossible, then ask yourself what “adjacent-to-the-adjacent” technologies are needed, and so on until you arrive at a “possible” technology. You now have a path towards your impossible idea.

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