Serendipity

When I sat down to write this inaugural blog post for Fireside HR, I wanted it to be a blockbuster.  Sadly, I put so much pressure on myself to deliver, I found myself struggling to come up with that perfect topic.  So, I looked to Dan Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind” for inspiration.   In this book, he talks of six senses that we should develop to succeed in today’s economy.  Design.  Story.  Symphony.  Empathy.  Play.  Meaning.  These are all “right brain” territory – the creative components of our gray matter.  Take “symphony” for example.  Pink describes it as the:

 “…capacity to synthesize rather than analyze; to see relationships between seemingly unrelated fields; to detect broad patterns rather than to deliver specific answer; and to invent something new by combining elements nobody else thought to pair.” 

If you read that thinking “yes, I would love to increase my symphonic skills”, Dan suggests a good way to start, and ironically (or perhaps not ironically at all) it’s all about serendipity.

Google a word/topic that you find interesting and then follow a link in that search and randomly select a link in each new site (or google something in there that you think is interesting if there are no outgoing links), repeating it 7 or 8 times.  When you are done, sit back and reflect on the themes or connections that you found.  Any surprises?  Did you have an “aha” moment on a problem that you are facing?  Did you learn anything?   Many of us are so busy that we don’t give ourselves anytime to just let serendipity occur.  It can be a fabulous (and fabulously cheap) way to learn, foster innovation, to problem-solve and maybe just to change mental gears.   

No time?  Share mine:

Topic – Serendipity – Link 1Link 2 Link 3Link 4Link 5Link 6Link 7

Put your observations in the comments section about my links or tell me about your own serendipity trail.   If you’ve joined along, you can rationalize it this way: 

 “just one cognitive ability distinguished star performers from average: pattern recognition, the ‘big picture’ thinking that allows leaders to pick out the meaningful trends from a welter of information around them and to think strategically far into the future.”(Daniel Goleman). 

If that doesn’t work, point them to this report by IBM which identified creativity as the top leadership characteristic.


Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.
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One Response

  1. Sad that no one took up my serendipity challenge…I thought about my links and realized I’m a hedonist, with cyborgian tendencies…

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