I've been using the term 'orchestrated serendipity' for a while and that may make no sense. Serendipity is supposed to be a happy accident so trying to orchestrate it is a bit of an oxymoron. What I mean by it however, is that although you cannot define precisely what kind of serendipity you will get in the future, you can set up an environment and processes by which you are more likely to discover happy accidents and in a zone that would be useful to you. I ran across this post by Christopher Penn this morning that perhaps explained in better than I can. A few weeks ago I also tripped over this article in Fast Company called How to Make Your Own Luck (ht to @pistachio) which gets at a similar principal.
The real point is that you or an entire organization can create an environment where serendipity and luck are likely to occur, where you will notice it, and where you can effectively take advantage of it. How to orchestrate your environment?
- Include room in your time and budget for cultivating topics, people, and events that will not have a direct correlated return but fall into your general range of business
- Understand what type of happy accidents you would be able to take advantage of and gear your cultivation in that general direction - whether it is topical, geographic, or specific types of people
- Listen, probe, and listen some more
- Be useful to people in your 'zone', they will return the favor in unexpected, serendipitous ways
- Assume you will achieve your goals in a slightly different way than you might think and leave room in your planning for it
Serendipity does not happen if you are so busy that you don't recognize the opportunity or worse, if you actively dismiss it because you are too busy or too focused. Obviously there are some people better suited to recognizing opportunity than others - don't misplace them either.
How do you encourage serendipity?