We seek meaning in most any action, so we sometimes mislead ourselves. Even when shown circles, triangles and other geometric objects randomly moving about on a screen, we tend to give them human attributes. We instinctively determine what their behavior means. Such quick conclusions were sometimes lifesaving to our ancient ancestors. “It was safer to mistake a twig for a snake than vice versa,” suggest psychologists Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel. Our primitive brain still controls much of our perceptions, yet analytics may alter that instinct.
See Serendipitous Connections That Are Meaningful For You
We can overcome our natural tendency to make the world more knowable and secure by seeking patterns and coincidences where there are none, Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger believe. In their book, Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think, they describe how our increasing access to the results of big data processing helps us overcome our quick instinct to falsely see correlation and causality, famously described by Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow. As Mayer-Schonberger and Cukier explain, we can “step back from looking at causes and instead look at correlations. Consider the what rather than the why, because that is often good enough.”
Then you will have more adventure and opportunity for innovation as well as click moments that lead to both if you cultivate diverse friendships. Citing an example from Ethan Zuckerman’s book Rewire, Berkman Center researcher David Weinberger “pointed to the urban planner Jane Jacobs, who championed a style of city design ‘to engineer encounters and engagement’ in ways that promote diverse communities. I certainly favor structuring serendipity,” said Weinberger.
Sensing Synchronicity Can Surface Opportunity
Just as we overestimate our ability to predict how we would respond to extreme stress or how happy we will feel in the future, according to Stumbling on Happiness author Daniel Gilbert, it is also true, states The Click Moment author Frans Johansson, that “our power of predicting success is essentially zero.”
Tip: Get “pleasure by proxy.” To make wise choices, improve the accuracy in predicting how happy you will be with a decision. Consult someone who has just done what you are thinking of doing, advocates Gilbert, because “the direct experience of another person trumps the conjecturing of our own minds … because we are far more similar to each other than we realize.” Gilbert dubs this approach “asking a surrogate,” which is only “a poor strategy in those rare circumstances where human emotional responses vary widely, such as ‘What’s your favorite number?’”
In my interview with Johansson, he mused, “It is fascinating how we are so willing to accept randomness in falling in love, the unexpected way it happens, yet we resist believing that unexpected factors affect much of the rest of our lives. Instead, we should welcome the opportunity to understand how to benefit from the serendipitous moments that can spur innovation, and more.”
Johansson Gives Three More Reasons To Find Click Moments
1. “The faster the world changes, the faster other people or organizations can catch up with you. The speed of discovering and sharing new business practices, marketing campaigns, products, or services has reached a fever pitch.”
2. “The interconnected universe we are building across cultures, industries, and other barriers makes for a hyper-adaptive environment, one in which a logical approach to strategy will fare worse and worse when others can easily copy and adopt successful practices, quickly diminishing their advantage.
3. “But this interconnectedness also increases the frequency of serendipitous encounters and unexpected insight and enables far greater rates of innovation.“
Stepping off your familiar path increases your chances of having click moments with disparate people with whom you share a strong sweet spot of shared interest. Reinforcing that notion, Future Perfect author Steven Johnson cites research which shows that “diversity trumps ability”: in other words, a large, diverse group of non-experts often outperforms a small group of experts.” To spur your motivation to step off that path to connect with people very different than you, see the value of adopting a mutuality mindset.
Like Johansson, Johnson takes an optimistic view of our increasingly connected world. Johnson’s complementary prediction is that some of the most positive changes that will unfold in our fast-changing world won’t happen because of traditional capitalism or government initiatives. Rather they will come from progressive peer networks, where shared-interest groups innovate faster.
Two of my favorite examples of positive, proliferating innovation and camaraderie that can be experienced within peer communities of shared interest are quantified self and shareable.
Also See Serendipity As A Way to Stay Relevant
Here is another reason to adopt the click-moment approach to your work and life. Meghan M. Biro, in her Forbes column, advocates reverse mentoring, a method I believe spurs serendipitous discovery of unexpected shared sweet spots of mutual interest, as well as social learning. Biro cites my former colleague at the Center for the Edge, John Hagel. “Formal schooling and degrees give workers about five years’ worth of useable skills,” according to Hagel and others at Harvard Business Review.
Staying open to serendipitous introductions increases the chances you’ll cultivate a flexible mindset, recognizing more sides to a situation and discover more breakthroughs in your areas of strongest interest. Plus you’ll open more doors to unexpected happenings in the adventure story you are truly meant to live, with others.
How Are Click Moments Different From Other Ways of Finding Ideas?
Recognize click moments in three ways, according to Johansson:
• They tend to occur when two separate concepts, ideas or people meet.
• They are impossible to predict as to when, how or where they will happen.
• You may recognize them because they often evoke emotional responses “such as happiness, awe or excitement.”
See If You’re A Savvy Serendipity Seeker
If you score above a 36 in the workplace serendipity quiz, you are more likely to be able to lead innovative teams, to “cultivate innovation” and to prosper, according to Earning Serendipity author Glenn Llopis.
Tip: One of the four practices Llopis advocates reflects a mutuality mindset: “Sharing the harvest: Focus on meeting others’ needs to improve personal good fortune.”
Fertilize Combinatorial Creativity By Connecting With Diverse Individuals
If successful scientists “have often been people with wide interests,” as Cambridge University professor William Ian Beardmore Beveridge concluded in The Art of Scientific Investigation, then you, too, might make more breakthroughs by seeking more varied people and experiences. Innovation most often happens when you adapt an idea from one domain into a new one, and that’s most likely to happen when you engage with people from different professions, backgrounds, industries, ages and so on. As Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova suggests, we need combinatorial creativity to have more experiences so we can connect the dots, cross-pollinate. Like LEGO building blocks, “The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our castles (innovations) will become.”
Kare Anderson’s TED talk on The Web of Humanity: Be an Opportunity Maker has attracted over 2.5 million views. She is an Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal journalist, now a speaker on connective behavior and quotability. Her TEDx talk on Redefine Your Life Around a Mutuality Mindset is now a standard session for employees and invited clients at 14 national and global corporations. Her ideas have been cited in 16 books. Her clients are as diverse as Salesforce, Novartis, and The Skoll Foundation. She was a founding board member of Annie’s Homegrown and co-founder of nine women’s political PACs. For Obama's first presidential campaign she created over 208 issues formation teams. She was Pacific Telesis' first Cable TV and Wideband Division Director and a founding board member of Annie's Homegrown. Kare is the author of How We Can Be Greater Together, Opportunity Makers, Mutuality Matters, Moving From Me to We, Beauty Inside Out, Walk Your Talk, Getting What You Want, and Resolving Conflict Sooner. She serves on the boards of The Business Innovation Factory, TEDxMarin, and World Affairs Council Marin.