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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Good Luck in Business is Hard Work | Ned Smith,

Smith reviews a recent book about "planned serendipity," Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business, by Thor Muller and Lane Becker.

According to the website about the book:
A guide to getting luck on your side
As the pace of change accelerates and the volume of information explodes, we feel incredible pressure to connect just in time with the people and ideas we need to thrive, even when we don't know who or where they are. But this uncertainty brings tremendous opportunities if we embrace one of the most crucial drivers of success: serendipity.
Planned serendipity is not an abstract, magical notion. It's a practical skill. Get Lucky is the indispensable resource for anyone who wants to learn this skill and make serendipity work for them.
Smith quotes Muller and Becker to highlight main points of their book.

Planned serendipity

It's fun to write a book about luck. You go out and find people who are really successful and ask them what things in their careers were so important. Based on those conversations, we reverse-engineered the innate skills we called serendipity.
Business breakthroughs

You have a set of practices you do every day — go to the lab, go to the office. And an anomaly occurs. Why does one scientist seize that when others don't? ...
Discovering something incredibly sweet and recognizing it had commercial application was serendipity.
How do you make breaking out of your routine part of your routine. ... There's a lot of paradox and oxymoron in serendipity.
The raw material of serendipity

The raw material of serendipity is creating more opportunities to collide with something.
Silicon Valley is really good at this. It's not an accident. There's a culture that allows for it and allows designed activities and structures that reward it and encourage it.
The ability to see anomalies

Sometimes serendipity also involves forgetting about conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom would have said, 'A weaker adhesive is not valuable. Why are you still thinking about it?' ...
Especially in the early days, they don't know what success looks like for their business. It's when they figure out what success looks like that their trouble begins. That's when they start looking for the expected as they scale their business and raise more money. It becomes more and more difficult to adapt to the unexpected.
Open mindset

The problem is, they lose [an open mindset]. They forget. The question is, can they find it? And sometimes it takes an existential crisis.
As the business grows, it does have to become segmented. The businesses that were the most successful with this were those that figured out how to remove hierarchy. It's not about eliminating hierarchy. It's looking for controlled and interesting ways you can allow hierarchy to collapse appropriately.
Serendipity is agnostic

This is where small business has a huge leg up on large businesses. In my experience, people who start small businesses are passionate about it. More often than not they see something that they want to do differently. That gives you the beginner's mind, that willingness to see everything fresh and new. That's why small business in this country trumps large businesses all the time.
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