On Serendipity

Serendipity always delights me! I guess it stems from the definition really, after all a ‘happy coincidence’ cannot but make you happy. But that moments when things line up, when you realise that a stroke of fortune is coming your way, well, I find that can light up the gloomiest day. I was thinking about this on my way to this afternoon’s meetup, a gathering of altMBA alumni in London. Living in the Isle of Man makes it harder to just drop in on these events, and I had missed the first one I knew about. But, as I’m heading to Web Summit tomorrow, this meetup just fell slap bang in the middle of my travel. In fact, it’s a pretty convenient way to break up a two-flight trip 🙂

There’s a great definition of serendipity on Wikipedia, but my favourite bit is the section of serendipity in scientific discovery:

The serendipitous can play an important role in the search for truth, but is often ignored in the scientific literature because of traditional scientific behavior and scientific thinking based on logic and predictability.

Successful researchers can observe scientific results with careful attention to analyzing a phenomenon under the most diverse and different perspectives. They can question themselves on assumptions that do not fit with empirical observations. Realizing that serendipitous events can generate important research ideas, these researchers recognize and appreciate the unexpected, encouraging their assistants to observe and discuss unexpected events.

Serendipity can be achieved in groups where a ‘critical mass’ of multidisciplinary scientists work together in an environment that fosters communication, establishing the idea that the work and the interest of a researcher can be shared with others who may find a new application for new knowledge.

I guess the takeaway here is that serendipity can be designed into a process. Removing rigour from a process leaves room for ‘luck’ and other anomalous events that can yield unexpected consequences. It’s up to us however to be open to these events and take advantage of them when they occur.

Something to look out for I guess …

altMBA – Goal Setting

My first couple of days doing Seth Godin’s altMBA have been quite interesting. I’ve met a really interesting bunch of people, picked up lots of interesting and useful information, but am reeling from the ton of material that’s being shared across the group. It’s amazing how we all have backgrounds that are so different, yet can all share learning that’s relevant across the group. I’m not quite sure of the best way to catalogue all the external resources that are coming out (or whether I’ll ever have the time to absorb them), so just wanted to capture some points around Goal Setting, which was the first project we worked on.

We were introduced to Zig Ziglar who had a lot to say about setting goals. Some tips here:

There’s a very succinct and effective way to delineate your goals. Check out Zig’s method here and here. You can find Zig’s worksheet here.
Use the Ziglar Seven Steps of Goal Setting process to break your goals into specifics, and describe the when and the what and the who.

Some useful links from Slack conversations:

So much to read .. and we’re only just starting ….

Reigniting my aspirations: Doing the altMBA

It’s going to be hectic! Yes, the next few weeks are going to be crazy! Besides all the stuff I’m involved in, I’ll be doing Seth Godin‘s altMBA over the next few weeks. It’s a fantastic new program designed to teach, inspire and motivate people by coalescing them into a group that works on 13 projects across 4 weeks. I’ve seen a number of people try to define what the altMBA is all about, but the most elegant one I have seen is by Wes Kao, who directs this initiative. In a post about why altMBA is not a MOOC she says:

The goal is to help leaders create change more effectively, to amplify impact, to fight through the discomfort that often comes with true learning.

Traditional online education and MOOCs tend to feel optional. Optional homework, optional projects, optional deadlines. And because you don’t have to do any of the work, many times we opt out because no one is watching.

altMBA is the opposite: everything about it is about making big promises and keeping them. We’re about group work, hands-on projects, and producing a body of work that you’d be proud of by the end of the course.

And most importantly, doing it with a community of ruckusmakers who are here to challenge ourselves, and one another, to grow.

So yeah, it’s going to be hectic, but it’s going to be so much fun!!!