Monday, October 13, 2014

Serendipity vs. Innovation

Serendipity is perhaps like a seed, it will sprout up, just at this moment, you don’t know what it grows to be. 

Serendipity has been voted as one of the most popular words in the English language. It is also one of the hardest to translate. Conversationally, it is used as tantamount to luck, providence or chance. What’s the correlation between serendipity and innovation, are all innovations serendipitous, or serendipity puzzle can be debunked through thinking innovatively?

Serendipity can be planned into an innovation projectSerendipity is not a lucky accident and it can be planned and worked upon. Has a lot of determination and divine providence for those who believe in that. One could not wait for something to happen, one has always to go on learning, acquiring new capabilities and trying. Meanwhile, one has to be confident that the firm belief in a cause will bring it back to own hands, no matter how it might have seemed to previously slip away.

Serendipity can 'reframe' things and trigger perceptual and behavioral shifts: Optimism and Pessimism are very fluid perceptual phenomena. We do tend to follow our conditioning as a normative cognitive impulse - but - We tend to perceive reality in a selective way, in such a manner that we confirm our prior beliefs. Thus, if we were expecting good results, we only see the positive. When we expect the negative, we only see the negative. Keeping oneself from negative thoughts is hard, but maybe we can work on not characterizing every event as negative or positive - it just is. Every system works, the question is what will the system work best for?

The perception of what is serendipity can be shifting: You can think very positively about whether a particular process or system will work and find that no matter what you do, you cannot achieve the desired outcome - thus leading you to feel pessimistic. If that system, however, produces an unexpected result that is nonetheless productive, your perception of the very same system and the work involved in creating that system changes is more optimistic. Fear paralyzes the mind and freezes senses. You need to get over it by turning a negative thought into a positive one. Fear can be helpful sometimes but to a limit. These constraints are imposed by the system. Should humans constrain themselves voluntarily? A human thinking is constrained by the weakest habit he/she has. Habits constraint us, and only when we change them we may elevate our thinking.

Perhaps the integrative thinking is the silver lining with the connected dots to debunk the myth of serendipity: To shoot the tangle and see serendipity from the different angle, find a way to reconcile logical and creative thinking without triggering an impaired form of cognitive dissonance. Integrative Thinking is the process of integrating intuition, reason, and imagination in a human mind with a view to developing a holistic continuum of strategy, tactics, action, review, and evaluation for addressing a problem in any field. Perhaps the integrative thinking is a discipline and methodology for solving complex problems or debunking the puzzle of serendipity.

Serendipity will always play some part in the innovation effort, and there are plenty of stories over the years about great ideas evolving out of chance meetings, sudden flashes of insight.  The point is how to elevate our thought and embrace it to explore the sea of possibilities.  


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