Relationships & Revenue

The Age of Serendipity Accelerators

Sam Frentzel-Beyme Follow Managing Partner & Strategy Director

The Short of It

  • The smallest, unexpected and unplanned for things can make the biggest difference.
  • Progress is really about pushing through what he calls the “gut churn” of uncertainty.
  • Technology is creating more opportunities for stumbling serendipitously into ideas.

The smallest, unexpected and unplanned for things can make the biggest difference. In reading Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things You Didn’t Know About Capitalism, he recounts a 1995 television interview with Warren Buffett:

“I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I’ve earned. If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru or someplace, you’ll find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil. I will be struggling thirty years later. I work in a market system that happens to reward what I do very well -- disproportionately well.”

Basically, to do well, we sometimes just need to get lucky.

Others like Jad Abumrad, one of the creative minds behind Radiolab, would go even further in saying that “change” can’t really be planned for at all. It can only be recognized after the fact. Progress is really about pushing through what he calls the “gut churn” of uncertainty.

Finding the right path, then, is really about two things. First, we need to stumble across the right ideas (or right phrasing of ideas) that trigger thoughts about what’s possible. Second, we need to create mechanisms that turn those ideas of possibility into the “gut churn” of how to actually make those things happen.

For the first part, technology is creating more opportunities for stumbling serendipitously into ideas. Twitter is a great example. Users can scroll through hundreds of feeds in seconds instead of the countless hours it might take to go to each site or meet each person.

Twitter, more than a two-way communications tool, is a one-way tool that provides users the opportunity to, in some ways, randomly collide with hundreds of people, ideas and points of view almost simultaneously never really knowing what will come out of it. And that’s exactly the point.

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