Business theory is all well and good, but do we all need a bit of serendipity to succeed?
When you look for help to start up a business in the UK, you find a wealth of information and support from experts about marketing strategies, business plans, researching markets and trends, analysing data – a logical approach to help you get off the ground. But, if that were all you needed to succeed in business, surely everyone would be the next Richard Branson?
Does it not come down to a bit of luck as well (Fate, Karma, whatever your favoured term)? There are all these concepts to concentrate on when you’re running a business, but often it’s those chance meetings that we never expected to occur that are what make us really successful.
Serendipity, as they like to call it in the US and Japan, is given a lot of airtime in these nations and is taken very seriously as a way of developing innovative thought, and in turn, aiding business success. Ikujiro Nonaka is an influential writer and Professor at the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy, Hitotsubashi University. All the way back in November 1991, in an interview with the Harvard Business Review, he said, ‘the serendipitous quality of innovation is highly recognised by managers and links the success of Japanese enterprises to their ability to create knowledge, not by processing information but rather by tapping the tacit and often highly subjective insights, intuitions, and hunches of individual employees and making those insights available for testing and use by the company as a whole.’
The theory is that you create your own luck. By getting out, meeting and exchanging ideas with as many people as possible, you’re surely increasing your chances of coming up with the idea that just may change your path in life and ultimately your success in business.
If I hadn’t met Mark while working at Business Link, followed by a period of us embarking on careers which took us off on different paths for a while, we’d never have had the vision to start up Tectona when we came back together.
It’s funny isn’t it…we seem to value serendipitous occasions in our personal lives, like when we meet our partners for example, so why is it so hard for us to translate that sort of thinking over to our professional lives? I’d love to know your thoughts on the theory of serendipity – is there anything in it? Or does theory and hard work make the most difference to a business?