Chapter Four: Serendipity of Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From really got into how organizations can create environments that maximize the potential for “ah-ha” moments. This chapter gave me several ideas that I would love to explore at a future gathering with colleagues. While the author described several ways of encouraging serendipity, my biggest take-aways were:
- Take a walk. Sitting at a desk isn’t always the most inspiring setting. When looking for solutions or new ideas, take a walk, breathe fresh air, relax your brain…this is often when inspiration can hit.
- Create a system for cultivating articles, quotes, etc. that you find interesting. Learn to tag them for ease in aggregating them later. I use Google Reader, Diigo, and Pinterest for these purposes. Many people I know use Evernote.
- Create opportunities for serendipitous learning: read things outside your profession. Find ways that force you to stumble upon stories or information that you might not have otherwise. I love this one simple quote around this idea: “Filters reduce serendipity.” (Location1352) In other words, if I only read ed tech blogs, follow ed tech Tweeters, and read ed tech books, my vision is going to be very limited. I need to find ways out of the echo chamber.
- Create a “hunch database” where employees can peruse ideas of co-workers and add their own. I find this idea most intriguing, yet most challenging for implementing. We have a paper-based model of this in our break room, but that isn’t visited as often as we would hope. What would be an effective, efficient hunch-database for our employees?
Perhaps I need to take a walk…