How To Create and Leverage Serendipity in Your Organisation

Kobi Simmat disseminates “Get Lucky” by Thor Muller and Lane Becker, and offers up five ways to foster serendipity in your organisation or personal life.

One quote sticks out in particular when it comes to serendipity in the context of business - and life - and that is that “opportunity may be the one to knock on your door, but serendipity is the one that makes sure you’re home at the right time.” Richard Wiseman has written a book on the subject, stating that some people are more likely to create serendipitous turns of events in their life, and capitalise on their potential.

Those people are, according to Wiseman, “skilled at creating, noticing and acting upon chance opportunities,” due to the way in which they are experts at “networking, adopting a relaxed attitude to life and by being open to new experiences.”

From personal experience, a lot of management figures and CEOs are risk-averse individuals, and they tend to shy away from new experiences into the unfamiliar. Thor Muller and Lane Becker, authors of “Get Lucky” which dives further into the matter of serendipity radically altering the fortunes of those that invited it into the metaphorical house that the quote we mentioned before depicts. Invites is a key word here. As the authors explain, the difference between individuals that are more likely to be buoyed by serendipitous strokes of luck are the ones that have a set of behaviours and sensibilities that invite chance encounters, and the fortunate results.

“The number-one factor that contributed to our success was luck.” Sergey Brin, Co-Founder of Google.

“Luck is a fundamental part of how the world works,” they say. “Open any history book and you’ll find stories of curious people looking for one thing and finding another.” It will come as no surprise, then, that one of the founders of the tech behemoth Google, Sergey Brin has been quoted saying “the number-one factor that contributed to our success was luck.”

While Brin is quick to put Google’s meteoric rise to prominence simply down to luck, Muller and Beck argue that “what Brin can take credit for is being open to serendipity, and being willing to use it to his advantage.”

In writing their book, “Get Lucky” Muller and Beck have fleshed out the principles of what they argue contributes to “planned serendipity,” suggesting there are things we can change in our behaviour that can act as the catalyst for a stroke of luck. “Accidents happen… there’s nothing mystical about then - but it’s our practical ability to take advantage of the best accidents that transforms these from forgettable moments into incredible opportunities,” they say.

“This is the essence of planned serendipity, the kind of luck you make for yourself.”

The authors encourage people to say goodbye to their old habits, and “break out of your routine… routine is the enemy of serendipity,” they say, in reference to what they call the “essence of motion.”

“Visit a different department inside your company. Attend a conference in an area related to your job, or even pick a different place to sit for lunch in the cafeteria each day. Here’s a little secret… no one succeeds without an assist from the unexpected. Every successful person on this planet employs the skills of planned serendipity.”

They continue to explain how you can make your own luck with the list of tips I’ve supplied below, taken from ‘Get Lucky’.

Motion- Maximize physical and conceptual movement in your workspace.

Preparation- Focus on breeding and feeding obsessive curiosity.

Divergence. Minimize fixed plans and goals to allow for changing circumstances.

Commitment. Choose from all your options the right ones to focus on.

Activation. Create new activities to open up your awareness of all the possibilities.

Connection. Optimize the number and quality of connections with others.

Permeability. Replace the rigid walls most organizations put up to keep themselves separate from other people and organizations with an open exchange of information.

Attraction. Project your purpose out into the world to draw the best and most valuable events, people, ideas and opportunities toward you.

At this point I think it’s worth mentioning that there’s an interesting Ted Talk from Australian entrepreneur, Morry Morgan that I encourage you to check out. I’ll put a brief synopsis below from a kind youtube commenter that drew up Morgan’s rules in a brief, easily accessible manner.

Rule 1) Chance favours the prepared mind

Rule 2) Be a generalist not a specialist

Rule 3) Serendipity is subtle

Rule 4) There is always a better view of the situation

Rule 5) Seek unlike-minded people

In wrapping all this up- there’s no proven way to snap your fingers and create your own luck, but on the other hand, there are a number of things you can sabotage your chances. Best of all, they’re easily implemented, and sound pieces of advice for professionals; what could be detrimental about expanding your network and trying new things?

Thanks again for your time, I’ll see you in the next piece.

Kobi Simmat,

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