“Serendipity is smart, active luck. It’s when you see something in the unexpected and connect the dots.”Dr Christian Busch
Celia Hannon: the warmest of welcomes to our latest Nesta talks to event. This is a regular series where we have conversations with some of the most interesting thinkers and doers out there. My name is Celia Hannon. I'm director of Nesta's discovery. Our team is really all about surfacing, hidden trends. We also think hard about how to build coaches and teams, which are not just capable of generating novel ideas, but also able to resolve them and then act on them because of our day jobs in the discovery hub.
I'm especially looking forward to hearing from Dr. Christian Busch, as he unpacks the role of uncertainty and innovation. But before I introduce Christian properly, inevitably, there are some quick points of housekeeping. You can access close captions for this event via the LinkedIn live [00:01:00] stream. I want to urge you to join the conversation in the comments box on the right hand side of your screen, ask your questions throughout the presentation that Christian is going to give.
They won't be disappearing into the ether. I will be capturing them and I promise to exercise and discipline and make sure we have time at the end for Christian to. So now onto today's speaker Christian teachers at the LSE and at New York university. In fact, I think he's joining us bright and early from New York today.
Thank you for that question. Previously, Christian was a co-founder of leaders on purpose and the sandbox network. He was also co-director of LSes innovation. As you can probably tell from the bio, Christian knows his way around the lab and network or a sandbox, but he's complimented that experience in applied innovation with a decade of research into whether there is such a thing as smart luck.
All of that led to the book Christina's head to talk to us about. [00:02:00] Uh, and it's, I very much enjoyed learning that the technical term for connecting the dots is by association. So thanks for that piece of trivia. Um, Christian and I look forward to hearing more nuggets in your talk. Over to you.
Christian Busch: Well, thank you so much for the wonderful introduction Celia, so wonderful to be here. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening, everyone. Wherever you are. Thank you so much for joining us. Um, I'll take you on a journey, a journey of exploring how we can create this kind of smart lack, both in our own lives, but also in our organizations.
And then more broadly in society, um, to give you a bit of context, I grew up in Heidelberg. Uh, I used to be that kind of kid who was kicked out of high school had to repeat it. Um, probably helped the official world record of how many dust bins and trash cans you can knock over on your way to school.
And then one day I wasn't so lucky anymore. I crashed into four parked cars. Old cars completely [00:03:00] destroyed, including my own. And at one, forget the policemen who came to the city. Who saw me in the car. And it was like, oh my God, he's still alive. So that idea that it was supposed to be dead, that, that stuck with me.
And I asked myself all these weird questions. If I would have died, who would have come to my funeral, who would have actually cared? Was it. And at that point, I only had a depressing answers. So it took me on this intense search for meaning, trying to figure out what is life all about? I started reading a wonderful book that I actually re-read, uh, last year, uh, Victor Frankel's means men search for meaning, which is all about how do we find meaning even in tough situations.
And so what I realized when, when kind of being on that journey of exploration, uh, back in those days, was that what I enjoy doing the most is connecting ideas, connecting people and, and the spark that comes from that. And so I started out as community builder, then entrepreneur, social entrepreneur, and later on also, uh, in academia.
And what I found fascinating on this journey is that the most successful purpose-driven inspiring people that I work with, that I studied, um, that I somehow collaborate. They seem to have something in common, which is that they somehow intuitively cultivate serendipity. They intuitively cultivate this smart, like they will talk today.
And so, um, what I'll talk about today is really we've been working on this science best framework for cultivating serendipity that hopefully then also helps us in our daily lives. And so being the German I am, of course, I have a very structured, uh, PowerPoints. As well, um, will come here on screen in a second.
And by the way, I'm also a big believer that most of the knowledge usually is in the room rather than in the head of the presenter. So if you have anything you want to share in the chat, anything, you know, practices that you're employing to have more of that kind of serendipity, that smart luck happen in your life and your organizations or.
How you create an organization and the life that's that's fit called the future. Please do share it with us and I'll try to pick it up from time to time. As I can then integrate that into the conversation. And hopefully at some point we'll all be able to interact in person. I sold the guest list and it's fantastic and amazing what kind of, uh, wonderful people in the room.
So I'm very much looking forward also to continuing this conversation with everyone. Um, so in terms of. Um, the journey, um, you know, we, of course, um, face big challenges. We are all very aware of there's all this kind of individual uncertainty, a lot of people going through personal transitions, professional transitions, uh, both triggered by the current moment, but also more broadly by this fast changing world that we're facing.
We see that there's ways of working and living that are not necessarily completely new, but, but. Uh, we see that there's a lot of intricate and complex societal and environmental challenges. And so life is often more often than, than, than even in the past shaped by the unexpected. And, and that is the case in innovation inventions in love in, in, in all areas of life.
And so developing a muscle for this unexpected becomes crucial, of course. And that's really about this kind of cultivating smart, like cultivate. Uh, positive, unexpected outcomes. So to be sure, we talk about the same thing. When we talk about serendipity, this kind of smart luck, here's a couple of examples.
Um, one here is a, you know, if you have unexpected, if you have, uh, erratic hand movements, like I do, you spill a lot of coffee. So imagine you spill coffee over someone in a coffee shop, and that person looks at you and they're slightly. But you sense, there might be something there. You don't know what it is.
You just sense. It might be something there. Now you have two options, right? Option number one is you just say, I'm so sorry. Here's a napkin. You walk outside and you think, ah, what could have happened? Had I spoken with this person and option number two, you know, you start that conversation and that person turns out to become the love of your life.
Your co-founder your business partner, your name, it it's our reaction to that unexpected moment, our making it meaningful, but then essentially creates that kind of ceremony. Outcome in the long run, uh, any ideas, what that might be on the upper rights. Um, any ideas, if you want to put into the chat, any ideas, what the upper rights might be?
It's usually a good sign, actually. Um, so this is where a couple of decades ago, some researchers were giving people medication against angina victorious, uh, and they realized there was some kind of movement. In the mail participants trousers. And what would we usually do in such a moment? We'll probably be like, oh my God, that's embarrassing.
Let's ignore this. That's let's, let's find a better way to cure angina. Then having that quote unquote side effect, uh, they did the opposite. They said, you know what, that's unexpected, but there's probably a lot of men in the. Who might have a problem in the department. So why don't we, um, exactly to Morgan's point, why don't we develop a medication around it?
So that's how by [00:08:00] Agra indeed evolved. It became one of the most successful, um, medications, um, here on the lower, right? Any ideas, what that might be on the lower, like on the, on the bottom rights, any ideas, what that might be chicken skewer and the, uh, any ideas, what that might be.
So this is a potato Washington. And so the potato washing machine, uh, you know, a few years ago, a company in China, uh, that produces refrigerators and washing machines. Uh, one of the leading white goods suppliers in the world and white goods manufacturers in the world, uh, they received calls from farmers and the farmers told them your crappy washing machines always bring.
Well, why is the washing machine breaking down while we're trying to wash our potatoes in it? And it doesn't seem to work? And what would we usually do? We'll probably quote unquote, try to educate the customer, right. And tell them, well, don't wash your [00:09:00] potatoes in this washing machine it's made for clots.
Well, they did the opposite. They said, you know what, that's unexpected, but there's probably a lot of farmers in China and in the world who might have a similar problem. So why don't we build in a dirt field? And make it a potential, uh, make it a, uh, a potato sweet potato washing machine. And that's how the sweet potato washing machine became one of their, their products.
Um, here on the lower left, uh, you see a recent example where breweries that's lost customers, restaurants, and others due to the potential. Um, they realize, oh wow. Maybe we can use our alcohol to produce hand sanitizers. And so they shifted to towards becoming hand sanitizer companies the same with fashion companies realizing, oh, we could become mass, mass producers and, and so on.
But the point here is when we look at up to 50% of innovations, social innovations and more broadly, you know, uh, things in life that, that somehow have a bigger, meaningful impact. Um, it [00:10:00] tends to be serendipitous. It tends to be something that, that, that emerges unexpected in some way, even if we hope that usually we can plan things about now, what the fascinating thing is of all the kind of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of examples that we studied around the world in very different contexts.
A lot of my research for example, is in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Latin America. Um, and then also in the UK, in the U S. Um, it's fascinating to see that the stories of serendipity are extremely different, but there's always the same pattern. And the pattern is always that there's some kind of situation, right?
Some kind of like trigger that happens in the situation. So that might be moving to male participants trousers that might be. Um, farmers calling and saying this washing machine is breaking down. Uh, there might be, uh, COVID happen. And, and, and the customer's kind of like, uh, not being available anymore.
And so on. It's, it's a, it's an unexpected, random events that that's, uh, you know, it's happening, but then we have to do [00:11:00] something with it. We have to imbue meaning in this. So we have to connect the dots, see something in that moment. And then a lot of times actually we need the tenacity to go through with it.
It's not enough to just run into someone at a conference and say, oh my God, such a coincidence. We could do X, Y a project together. We actually have to follow through right. Follow up meetings. And so-and-so so that we then later can say, oh, serendipity happened then. But it's usually, um, there's a certain incubation time starting to be a lot of times.
Um, and, and that of course is something where tenacity a lot of times comes into play. So the interesting thing about this is that once we look at serendipity as a process, and not just as a kind of passive thing that happens to us, right, that's blind, like blind, like is being born into a nice family, thinks that that just happened to us.
Pets. But serendipity is really this active process of spotting and connecting dots. And the fascinating thing then is once we, once we see that, that it's about spotting those dots or even creating those dots and then connecting them, we can influence every [00:12:00] step. Right. We can create more serendipity triggers.
And I'll talk about this when talking about things like the hook strategy. We can learn how to connect the dots better, but also we can build that muscle that makes us more tenacious to actually go through with this. And then of course it becomes interesting that we can also develop the organizational enablers that help us to have more of this happen in the organizational context.
That's um, that can, can do something. The problem of course, is that a lot of times, uh, we might miss serendipity, right? We might not see that. We might not be able to connect the dots or we might not have the tenacity to go through with it. And that's actually, um, you know, just to, to, to, to, um, uh, ask you one, one question here to show you the, the, the importance, for example, seeing those potential things out there.
Um, I'd love to ask you, do you mind putting in the chat, do you consider yourself to be a lucky or an unlucky person? Uh, just lucky or unlucky? Um, do you consider yourself to be a lucky or unlucky. If you want to put into the [00:13:00] chat lucky or unlucky, or, you know, sometimes lucky or, and the reason I'm asking you, this is when we think about the, the, uh, the way of how a lot of times unexpected good luck happens is it's because we are open and alert to it.
It's because we, we see it. Um, and so there's, there's wonderful. Um, so I see here, a couple of, um, Morgan is an optimist ideas. Um, Tom is a lucky person. Like the lender, lucky Amy lucky, Rebecca lucky 81. EK. Both depends. Yeah. And is lucky. Jeff's lucky. Maloney. Lucky. She creates her own luck or they create their like Chris lucky, Andrew lucky.
And you're lucky. You're lucky. Sometimes lucky, Carla, lucky, Veronica, both a different life stages. Yep. There's this time, time. Um, and Cade sometimes lucky. So we see a, um, a relatively lucky room and then a couple of unlucky and sometimes [00:14:00] lucky, um, people. And, and so the reason why I'm asking you this is, um, there's a couple of experiments and some of which kind of more serious than, than others, but one experiment that I, and that I fluffed, um, uh, lots and that, um, you know, you can replicate in different types of situations is when they take one person who considers themselves, uh, to, to be very.
Uh, or they, they, they take people who consider themselves to be very lucky and people who consider themselves to be very unlucky. And then they take one of each and say, walk down the street. Going into a coffee shop, order a coffee, sit down, and then we'll have our conversation. What they don't tell them is that there's hidden cameras along the street and inside the coffee shop, there's a five-pound notes.
So money in front of the coffee shop, and then inside the coffee shop, there's this one empty seat next to this extremely successful businessman who can make big dreams happen. Now the lucky person walks down the street sees the 500. Picks it up goes inside the shop orders, the coffee sits next to the [00:15:00] businessman.
Uh, you know, they start a conversation exchange business cards, potentially an opportunity coming out of it. We don't know that part. The unlucky person walks down the street steps over the five pound notes. It doesn't see it goes inside the shop or does the coffee sits next to the businessman, ignores the businessmen.
And that's it. Now at the end of the day, they asked both people, how was your day? And so the lucky person says, well, it was amazing. I found money in the street, made new friends and, you know, potentially an opportunity coming out of it. The unlucky person just says, well, nothing really happens. And you can replicate that in different situations where you can put people into exactly the same situation facing exactly the same challenges.
And one will just, you know, have very different experiences and, and, and, um, and then, then, then the other. And so the interesting thing about this, this, and we can talk more about this later. You know, talking to the businessman, it obviously helps to kind of, you know, engage people to make it more likely that you have have those kinds of things happen.
But, you know, for closet introverts like myself, there's a lot of hope that a lot of times unexpected good [00:16:00] luck comes from silent and calm sources. Right. It might be. Walking down the street and looking into the window of the bookstore and thinking, oh my God, this could be a podcast or things like this, right.
Where it comes from calm, quiet sources, rather than from the kind of extroversion. But what I'm wanting to show you with the, with the money pieces, I'm finding a lot of money in the street, mostly unfortunately, pennies. So it's kind of like, it doesn't really. Much to that, but because I expect it to be there, I see it more often because people drop unexpectedly a lot of money or they drop a lot of money.
Um, industry, the point is once we have the alertness to something unexpected, we tend to see it more. And that's the same there's there's research that has been done in companies where they ask people, you know, look out for surprising incidences. Uh, you know, if someone calls up and talks about how the washing machine is used for.
Tell us about it. And once people start looking out for it, they start to see it more often. Um, and I'm a big fan of simple things. For example, like in the [00:17:00] weekly meeting, ask people what surprised you last week. And once you do that, it kind of legitimizes the idea that the unexpected happens all the time.
But also that it's, it's part of the process. It's not a threat, but rather, um, it's, it's, it's, it's a potential ally now. Um, one big question, of course, always before we dive into some of the practices. How H how do you study this? Right? How do you study, um, um, serendipity? Um, and there's three ways that, that I find particularly interesting and useful.
Um, one is, is through qualitative methods where you look over time. So for example, one of our studies, we went into an incubator, um, that kind of helps entrepreneurs grow. And then over time we would observe what happens to entrepreneurs over time. And you would see, for example, that one entrepreneur one day would run into someone unexpected.
And then two days later they would set up a new app based on the idea they got from that kind of running into the person unexpectedly. And then they shift their business model and go into that direction. So you, you kind of over time can study how these entrepreneurs [00:18:00] kind of unexpectedly, so develop, develop new ideas.
And so on. Another approach has kind of looking at counterfactuals. So looking at what could have happened. Um, so for example, there's this, um, uh, revenue. Uh, example where a couple of decades ago, two researchers at the same time, a guest rabbits injections, um, and, uh, uh, they, they tried to figure out something, um, uh, and they gave them injections with the pain and they saw that the rep is years flopped, and there was very unexpected to both of them.
Um, both found it unexpected, but only one of them actually followed up. And then realize, oh my God, that has to do with blood flow and all these kinds of different things. And that ended up to become kind of prize winning, uh, arthritis medication that can order this was the other one didn't really follow up.
And so what we can do here is we can look at two incidences that were unexpected or, you know, the same incidents that's unexpected, but then how, how does someone act based on that incident [00:19:00] and look at that counterfactual. So what would have happened? Had they done that or comparing to. Um, that that are going with, and then the third one, um, that I find very interesting is it's these kind of social experiments where you literally just do exactly what, what I mentioned earlier.
You put people into different situations and see how they react to unexpected cues. For example, you know, in, in newspapers, having people read through a newspaper, Um, and then kind of like building in unexpected cues and some of them will see them and others will. Um, but long story short, but that's kind of like a couple of ways of how we studied, but of course the much more interesting thing is how do we have more of this, right?
How do we create more of this and what holds us back from it? And so some of the things that hold us back is really, um, biases and, and self limiting constraints. Right? So we, um, we, we tend to underestimate how likely the unexpect. Uh, those of you interested, there's this amazing birthday paradox. Um, if we were sitting together in a room, we could, we could play that out now, but the idea is that in a room of 23 people, [00:20:00] um, I'd love for you actually to think about what do you think is the probability.
And if you want to put that into the chat, the probability of 23 people in the same room that two people have the same birthday, what do you think is the probability in a room of 23 people that two people have the same birthday? So February 22nd. Uh, sorry. So, so like the, the day in the month, so no specific date, but at the day of the month, but there's a birthday pair.
What do you think? Is that the probability of that? Any, any, any takers, uh, any. So the, the, the Metro way of course would be to say, Hey, it's 365 days in the year. It's 23 people. You divide that by each other. And you come up with a very low probability, right? That, that there's, that there's something like this happened.
Um, Louis has one in 10. Um, so very low probability, right. That we usually would assume is happened. But actually, um, the probability is 50%. Um, and then when you have 70, 80, 90 people, it's almost a hundred percent 99%. Um, [00:21:00] when you go to a 79. And that's incredible, right? That, that, that it is, it is extremely probable that in a room of 70, 80, 90 people, you have two people have the same birthday.
And the reason is that it's not a linear, um, um, kind of function, but an exponential function in the sense that, um, you know, if Chris has, um, uh, uh, Uh, 22 people in the room who could have their birthday, um, any still has 21 people. Um, then the next one still has 20, give them if they didn't have the same birthday yet.
And so essentially the idea is that, um, you have so many potential pairs that could be there. Uh, that is to the power of something. The long story short is really to say that actually this extremely light. Uh, that in a room of 50, 60, 70 people, two people have the same birthday and that's unexpected, right.
Because we would usually assume it's extremely unlikely. Those of you interested in that. Um, if you Google the birthday paradox, it'll show you that, that distribution, but it's just fascinating to see that, um, you know, [00:22:00] that's also how we tend to approach life, right? To think that. That we know the variables that you can plan things out, that you can organize things.
Step-by-step, you know, it's a linear approach to life, but actually life is exponential in a way, right? That you have all these possible things that could happen even in this presentation now. Right. It's very unlikely that I throw off my laptop here. It's very unlikely that the coffee sips on it, it's very unlikely that like my wife comes in with our, a cute little newborn and they, they kind of scream at me.
All of these things are extremely unlikely, but if you add them, It becomes actually relatively likely that something unexpected happens. So that's the interesting thing in life. We tend to see more serendipity. Once we realize that the positive, the unexpected is everywhere. If we see it or not. Um, another thing that holds us back is functional fixedness, the hammer nail problem, right?
If we have a particular approach, a particular hammer, um, and, um, you know, you put, um, uh, uh, if you have a hammer and you need a nail in the wall, you essentially will always look for the [00:23:00] hammer to get the nail to. So you always will use your one approach versus if you haven't been used to the hammer, you might use any heavy object to get that nail into the wall, um, and do that.
And then the last kind of, uh, potential, uh, self-limiting, um, bias that sometimes holds us back is, is post-rationalization. Um, I work a lot with the executive teams and, you know, if you're the CEO of a company and you go into a boardroom, um, what do you want to like say is obviously this was my plan. This is exactly what we.
And then exactly this happened, right? So you want to portray control at all times. You want to show that you were the one who led the, the company, but that's of course not how it, it tends to happen. And what we see here. Uh, you know, similar to how we would probably present our CV. Um, we would, we would say it linearly, right?
We did this. Then we did this. Then we did this. But the actual experience of course is much more like a squeak. It's much more like this. Um, and, and even if we then tell it again as if it is step by step. And, um, so what I found [00:24:00] fascinating in our research is, um, we, for example, did a study recently with, um, over 40 of the world's leading CEOs that have been uh purpose-driven and that have tried to bring their companies.
Uh, impacts, uh, you know, when you take a company like MasterCard, for example, that traditionally has been very kind of focused on financial transactions and so on, and now says, well, can we be part of tackling some bigger global challenges? Can we be part of bringing 500 million people into the financial system, those kinds of companies, when you look at them, how their CEOs, um, you know, have been operating a lot of times, you would see.
They are not focused on this kind of illusion of control of I have to control every step, but rather they will be this kind of idea of here's a sense of direction. Here's a sense of where we're going. We want to get 500 million people into the financial system. Here's an approximate strategy, but I'm telling you already, now that I need you to identify the unexpected, the emerging kind of interesting things that will help us to exhibit.
I go, well, we want to get to, and so they price in [00:25:00] the idea that the unexpected will happen. And what happens then is that the unexpected isn't a threat to their authority, but actually becomes part of their plan. And that's of course also much more credible to their staff and the people who say yes, like they don't kind of pretend that they have it all figured.
But actually they are building a good culture that allows to cultivate certainty and how they do that. I'll talk about in a second, but the key point being it's really kind of legitimizing this idea. That's, um, the unexpected happens all the time and that's that's um, that's just a, here's a bit of, if you have any favorite serendipity practices, please do share in the chats.
Um, always very interesting. A couple of practices, um, on, on how we can actually cultivate serendipity. One of my favorites is the hook straight. Uh, the hook strategy, um, uh, only Barrett, wonderful entrepreneur in London is extremely good at this. Um, if you would ask him something like, what do you do? You know, this dreaded question that we all get at conferences and you name it, he wouldn't just say I'm a technology entrepreneur.
He would say something like I'm a technology entrepreneur [00:26:00] recently read into the philosophy of science, but what I'm really interested in is playing the piano. And so what he's doing here is he's giving you three potential hooks where you could be like, oh my God, such a coincidence. My sister's teaching on the philosophy of science.
You should give a guest lecture. Oh my God. Such a coincidence. We've been hosting piano Martinez. You should stop by the point is that we can use every interaction, uh, to cast a couple of interesting themes that we're interested in and then let the other person connect the dots for us. So I'm a big fan of doing a serendipity journal where you just write down what are two or three key themes that I'm interested in at the moment.
And can I just see that into conversation? Wouldn't they colleagues with my aunt, with my uncle, um, your name. Then, uh, those kind of unexpected things come from the most unexpected places. Another one of course is asking questions differently. Um, instead of asking the dreaded, we'll do, do question asking something like, you know, what do you enjoy doing?
Um, so if you would imagine you're in a fishing village somewhere near. And you ask the person who's fishing. Well, what do you do? She will say, well, I'm a Fisher woman, [00:27:00] but if you ask them, what do you enjoy about fishing? They will say, well, I enjoy the endlessness of the sea or your name. And then you find that unexpected denominator where you say, oh my God.
Yes. Like I love the endlessness of philosophy or you name it. Um, another one is really looking at mistakes in crisis differently. We can talk about this later. There's things such as the project funeral and where it's about saying how do we celebrate the learning from. And by doing this, we allow people to, um, you know, uh, kind of talk about the things that don't work also because in companies we tend to celebrate success.
But of course there's much more to learn from the things that didn't work, but usually people hide them away. So there's all these practices we can use to essentially allow people to put projects, to rest, to celebrate the learning from that. And that's where a lot of times I'm excited. Um, kind of new ideas emerge, uh, reframing situations is a big one.
I'm a big fan. You know, if you look at companies like Phillips, for example, for a long time, they were organized kind of in departments that would have names such as [00:28:00] tomography department. And if your organizing department based on the solution like tomography and that of course constraints the thinking of people.
Right? So now I'm always thinking, how do I make a better tomography product rather than if it would be a department called precision. Uh, you would think about other ways and then, uh, tomography might be one solution, but there might be 50 others that you might think of to, to come up with. So it's about not over defining the challenge, not over defining the problem, but actually giving people the space to think about these things more broadly.
There's a lot of work coming out of low-income contexts. We can talk about if that's of interest to someone. Um, of how we can make the best out of what is at hand and by doing this in a way kind of reframe our thinking away from resource constraints, um, to, to, to, um, to, to, uh, uh, the idea that, that a lot of times there's abundance in the moment.
Um, another practice before then wrapping up and going into the Q and a is, um, the idea of, of, of really kind of the surprise [00:29:00] focus in every process and procedure. Nobody really loves, um, you know, uh, Change. Everyone talks about innovation so on, but obviously nobody really likes it when they are part of, uh, the ones that are being changed or innovated.
And so, um, I'm a big fan of not pushing everything at once, but really saying how do we build in small things like asking people what surprised you last week and so on, but then also investing into those. Uh, emerging ideas that come up and last but not least, uh, then, you know, leveraging technology and space design, especially also virtually I had a wonderful conversation with a seller earlier about how a Nesta and other organizations.
Um, you know, there's been these wonderful ideas around vendor lunches, uh, randomized control, uh, randomized, um, uh, coffee Childs, and so on where you essentially take people across the organization and match them randomly, um, for a quick coffee and some organizations, they get an inspiring prompt, like, you know, what's your challenge and how can I support.
And if you do that across different levels of the hierarchy and across [00:30:00] different departments, what you're doing is you're recreating these water cooler moments that have been taken off the table by the pandemic a lot. And it's great for serendipity, but it's also great for the sense of belonging towards the company or the organization that a lot of times has been taken.
Um, from this, and I talked about the north star or key curiosity that of course helps us to connect those dots. Now there's a lot of implications for policymaking. I'm sure Salia, we'll talk about this later. Really kind of focusing more on bridging between different communities rather than, um, doing it in some local ones.
But I want to kind of wrap it up by saying. You know, nobody likes change too much. So this is about kind of a lot of times doing practices after and after, rather than throwing it all at once. It's about normalizing and perfection. It's about saying, Hey look, even the most amazing CEOs in the world, a lot of times they're just winging it.
And there's a lot around role modeling there. How do we open meetings, for example, with the idea that. Like at the beginning, a lot of ideas are not there yet. Um, it's about acknowledging the anxiety that we all have when things [00:31:00] change. And I think that's a very human thing that, that, that is there and making space for things like meditation.
So that really kind of anchor us a little. And taking the long view. I mean, serendipity, a lot of times it's inflection points that come out of crisis. Um, and then the crisis itself becomes the kind of beautiful inflection point for something much bigger. And that really leads me to the final quote. And by the way, the books here wherever you are in the world matters or tells me to mention that the person is different versions.
But the two serendipity mindset versions, and then the paperback version, but it really kind of leads back to, I grew up in Heidelberg where, um, you know, go to Schiller out their poems and go to it, this beautiful idea that if you take someone as they are, you make them worse. But if you take them as who they could.
You, uh, make them capable of becoming what they can be. And that's what serendipity is all about. Right? Serendipity is about potentiality. It's about what could be and us as leaders, or as people, you know, parents or others who are with people whom they want to lift up. There's so much about saying how do I enable people to [00:32:00] have that potentiality happen in their life?
And that's why I'm so excited about this work, because I feel it can really propel towards potentiality, especially during a time that's. Uh, as it is at the moment. And so I'm looking forward to compensate to continue the conversation for now, handing back to.
Celia Hannon: Wonderful. Thank you so much for that tour, Christian.
And I feel like with so many lucky people in the chat, we should pick some lottery numbers or something, like make the most of it. Um, so, uh, do you put your questions in the chat while I'm talking to Christian? I'll start to come to those in a minute, but before then, Uh, capitalize on the, the role of chair, just to ask a few of my own that, um, struck me as I was, I was reading the book, um, I think was one of the things new.
You talked towards the end there about some of the approaches for creating smart luck. And, um, a lot of those tactics come much more easily to extroverts, like speaking to strangers. [00:33:00] Um, and I realized when reading your book, that the pandemic has made these kinds of behaviors feel far more challenging to, as we, you know, we feel tired, we feel fatigued if we were ever extrovert enough to actually do them in the best place.
So do you think that, um, given the, that fatigue, we're actually less likely to pursue those serendipitous opportunities and, and how do we adapt in a context of remote working? I think it was a specific question in the chat. Thomas ready about virtual brainstorming. So that would be one place to stop.
Christian Busch: Yeah, no, definitely. And I think we, we all resonate with the idea that, that, you know, the kind of whole working at home completely has been taken away. A lot of the. Social interaction, but also the energy that comes from that. Right? I mean, it's, there's a lot of fatigue. I think sitting, especially, always sitting with the same people, right.
I mean, we think we coordinate with so many people, but it's mostly the same people, right? So it's actually quite, quite quite few people with whom we constantly engage with. Um, [00:34:00] and, and so I think that is a given and what, what I've always liked is the idea of zoom or WebEx being our, our personal private plane.
Right. I can now fly into Celia is living. Um, I can talk with her about the books on her shelf behind her. I can, I can see her kept like running behind her or her, her toddler, uh, you know, coming, coming into the midst of it or, or those kinds of things where, um, we can connect very differently now because I become directly part of her kind of living space.
And, and, and, and to me, that actually, when we really kind of reframe that situation away from, okay, everything has been taken away too. Okay. There's a couple of things here. That can really help us, um, in terms of how we converse. Um, the, the pandemic has led to a lot of anxiety in everyone. I've, I've never met anyone who, after the third glass of red wine, wouldn't admit that they had a lot of anxiety through all of this.
Right. I mean, I just had a newborn and her grandparents couldn't see her for months because literally the borders were closed. I could have never [00:35:00] imagined that, like that, that, that, that just was just be taken away from us like this. And so these things cause anxiety. That anxiety though, is a beautiful common denominator for all of us to communicate right, to say, Hey, how did you survive this?
How did you go through this? Like, this is kind of in a way, I think we can have very different conversations smell because we have a common denominator that is probably the most global common denominator we've ever had in our lifetime. There's nothing else that has ever brought people. So into the same conversation in that sense and, and, and, and, and, and gives such a common denominator.
And, and I think thirdly, I think in, in general and, and the private plane metaphor really. You know, when you think about something like me now, when you launch a book into a pandemic, right? The hardcover was launched into pandemic and we first thought, oh my God, okay. Now all the bookstores are closed. All the airport stores are closed.
So we were really depressed about it. We were like, geez, that really is not the nicest thing. But then we realized, Hey, now we can actually take it much more global because now you can be in Costa Rica in the morning, and then you can [00:36:00] directly be in Tokyo the hour after. In a way you don't have to go through customs and have to fly somewhere and have to do this, but you can scale an idea directly.
And I think that kind of scale element of directly being able to take something into different contexts that immediately, I think I've seen that with different businesses. I've seen that with others where it's just more accepted now to, to, um, to do that in those different ways. So my long story short is.
Um, th there's things that have changed, right. And, and where we all have to kind of adjust to. But also, I think a lot of the times the things we talk about, right? The way we ask questions and things like this, we can also do that on zoom. Right. I feel like say we had a wonderful conversation. We touched everything from our kids to the pandemic, to, to that we both had COVID to that, you know?
And I feel like you, you, you can do that as well. So long story short, I think there's a lot of these kind of barriers, but also I think a lot of opportunity in that. Well,
Celia Hannon: it doesn't surprise me. You've got a glass half full approach to this question. Um, you mentioned in [00:37:00] the book, a lot of accidental breakthroughs, which are kind of part of the Canon of innovation.
So, you know, the story of post-it notes and three mm. And penicillin. So almost like solutions which present themselves to problems we weren't actually trying to solve or didn't know we were trying to solve in the first place. Um, but it's actually capitalizing on these sparks. That's important. Um, and I don't think you use this story in your, in your book, but I think the example of Kodak is, is quite revealing one and everyone knows that Kodak went bankrupt and it's this example of a dinosaur, which failed to innovate in the digital age.
But. It's less well-known that a Kodak engineer actually invented the first digital camera in the 1970s, and then the company failed to do anything with that painting. So what I loved in your book was that you've got a phrase for this, this issue, um, absorbative capacity. So the ability to absorb those different approaches and then do something [00:38:00] with it.
Um, and I think we had someone in the chat D D was talking about, um, uncertainty as being, um, one of the key. Conditions for innovation. So I wondered if you could talk a bit about how, how organizations get better, not just about generating those ideas, but then doing something
Christian Busch: with them. Yeah. That's a really interesting idea.
And I think that kind of absorptive capacity, so the ability to, to, to spot a potential idea, but then also to actually do something with it, to, to. For the lack of a better term, exploit that idea and do something with it. Um, being really crucial in this time, because there's nothing worse, right. To say in a company.
Yeah. We all about ideas. And then whenever someone comes up with an idea, they're not being heard like that, that's really the motivating. Then I'd rather not even have brought in the idea in the first place. And so it's kind of, um, things where if you look at a company like hire this Chinese company that I mentioned earlier, um, what they have is they, they develop this quote unquote ecosystem.
You whenever an interesting idea comes up. There's a informal investment committee that direction can [00:39:00] invest into it. And then I think it's kind of those things where, um, you know, when you look at companies like Pixar know. A informal brain trust, right. Of people who say, okay, this idea could work. This kind of idea.
Couldn't but so a very simple approach where you can say, when ideas come up, we have a mechanism that we do something with them. No matter what we do, them people respect when their ideas are not taken in, but they want to be listened to. Right. And I think that's kind of the main thing. Um, there's a lot of research around all these kinds of crowds, uh, sourcing of ideas, things, and people don't have an idea if they don't win, but they have a problem with, I didn't even get a notification if my idea like was somehow involved in something or not, and, and those kinds of things.
And so I think that the most important thing when it comes to that absorptive capacity, being saying, Hey, what is the process? An easy process that when someone comes up with a potato washing machine idea, Here's a place to put it, and here's a very easy way for us to potentially invest into it and to understand what do we want to invest in.
And I always liked the Pixar approach, um, of a very kind of [00:40:00] simple. Informal brain trusts an informal advisory board that says this works, that doesn't work. I've seen that with people individually where people say these are my two people, whenever a new idea comes up, I quickly check with them. And then if it doesn't work, importantly, not killing the idea, but having a parking lot.
Right. So saying here's a. I mean it just to be Wiki page in the days, and that's probably a Google sheet or so by literally just storing those kinds of ideas and saying, okay, Hey, like here, these are the things we kind of work on at the moment, but we'll, we'll work on later on. And I think I've, I've seen it, especially in the startup context where yes, there's so many potential opportunities, but, um, you've got to focus on some of them.
And so putting the rest on the parking lot, being really effective. And then I think the third aspect, which, which I think is the most important one is. I think a lot of times people think about innovation, those kinds of things, isolatedly from the rest of the organization, right? So there's people who are like responsible for like it's the old R and D mindset where some people are responsible for coming up with new ideas that doesn't work in the world we live in, right?
Like in the world we [00:41:00] live in like ideas have to come from everywhere from the sales person who interacts with the farmer to, um, to, to other people. And so it's really this idea of building the culture around it. And that's what I'm most fascinated by. Can you build the culture by doing very small things.
Like when you have the performance review built in one more question around what surprised you and how can we help you make that happen? Or when you promote people, can you not only promote based on X, Y, Z sales numbers or something, but also based on, you know, how did they kind of spot new opportunities or things like this?
So really the idea of how do we integrate that into every process rather than have kind of this isolated ideas, um, uh, process.
Celia Hannon: So resonates for as Christian, we took it in our, in our team and it Nesta about having a culture of distributed discovery. So, you know, we might have a discovery team, but actually everyone around the organization plays a critical role in sensing for new ideas.
And helping us make sense of those signals. So, um, the idea that it's [00:42:00] siloed and one team is, you know, it's just, just not how, how this stuff works. And there's a lovely, uh, comment from Andy. Who's putting down his own, his own luck to an innate curiosity that he has in other people, towards other people.
And, um, I think curiosity actually underpins almost all of this stuff. Serendipity in your book, but my question is, are we, are we perhaps experiencing a bit of a dearth of curiosity when it comes to people who hold different opinions? Do you think there's a link between that and these kind of toxic kind of culture wars that we're in, we're getting less and less curious and actually a bit more tribal most
Christian Busch: online?
Yeah. You know, it's interesting, I'm thinking so much, that's such a, it's such a fantastic point. If you think about it, what, where do a lot of these kind of, you know, culture, war and things come from it's because people want to believe in something, right? They, they, they, they like, you want some kind of anchor for like, for, [00:43:00] for, for what you can believe in when the whole world seems to be kind of.
Falling apart. And when you feel maybe you were discriminated against or other means. And so I think it's kind of this, like what is something that I can hold onto? And I think unfortunately, a lot of times that is being abused by political leaders who then kind of shape some narratives. So where people buy into and kind of, it gives them a certain idea of, okay, at least there's something here I can believe in.
I think to me that really kind of, you know, that question of, and that's why I've been focusing so much on this question of common denominator, because I think once you kind of step out of these kind of debates of things and stuff like that, you realize a lot of times, you know how, like it's not my place to wait into too many of the UK or other debates at the moment, but I think it's, it's kind of, you realize at the end of the day, We have a lot in common, but also there's, there's a couple of things that, um, in a way people have an incentive to just kind of tear people apart.
And, and I think, um, by, in a way, [00:44:00] curiosity is the one vehicle, right? That allows us to say if you efficient woman, um, we still have a lot in common. We still, probably long for the far away, or we still long for whatever it is. And by asking someone slightly different questions, What party are you in? Are you conservative or Labour or whatever it is.
Um, if we ask more about like, you know, what is it about that that made you join in the first place? Where is that? And then they might say, well, I joined in the first place because I just want my kids to be protected. Um, and then you're like, yeah, no, I can resonate with this. Like, we actually want the same thing.
We just voted different parties because we believe. Um, but one of them does it better. And so I think it's really kind of this idea of, of once we let go of this kind of boxes of you're in this party, you're in this party, you're in this job, you're in this job. And when you step back and say, well, why did you go there in the first place?
And what was it about this? There's actually a lot. We relate to each other and we might be surprised about those kinds of things. And I'm a big fan of a book that I reread every couple of years, which is, um, the little. And the little prince book it's so much about, um, the idea that you [00:45:00] constantly question everything, right?
And you constantly ask why, and, and, you know, there's this kind of, um, um, one story or sub story where the little prince goes to this guy who counts stars. And so the little prince asked the guy, like, why are you counting all these stars? Well, I'm counting the stars so that I can then buy more stars and then he's like, yeah, but, but then what, and then he's like, well, then I can count more and buy more and more and buy more.
And the little prince is like, well, but what's the point? Like, what's the point of all of this? And I think to me, this is like one of the, there's a lot of bad things to the pandemic, but I think one of the interesting things that I think leaders, the opportunity leaders have in this pandemic is to say, Okay.
People are looking for innovation. People are looking for a redefinition of success. Maybe it's not about counting how many stars you have there, or how many cars you have in your garage or whatever it is. But maybe there's like a deeper meaning we're longing for. And maybe as a leader, I can provide this.
And I think that's why we've seen, you know, when you look at some companies that have really stepped up, those are the kinds of people where in 10 years, people will say, [00:46:00] this person really stepped up during that period versus others who really failed and just cut costs. And, and, and did that. You know, in, in one of our studies who virtually said it nicely, who, who used to be the CEO of at best buy.
He said something along the lines of look the unexpected. Like you can see the people who are real leaders suppose the ones who kind of like are not real leaders. And people will remember that in 10 years, like people will remember. If you were the one who just kind of like dismissed 10 people out of the office, or if you were the one who really helped them through that period.
And I think that's what those purists are, that the opportunity of those periods is to, in a way, it also showed her true colors
Celia Hannon: to discover meaning. And I agree with you. There's great wisdom in children's books. Um, there's a question, um, from Gretta and the cat, and she talks about, um, tenacity and the relative tenacity and all of what practices can we.
Which means that we don't give up on particular opportunities. And I know that you're really interested in this because it's, um, [00:47:00] it comes up in your book and in the guise of grit, which is something, um, you know, lots of ism policy-making circles are interested in and resilience. So could you say a bit more about that theme?
Christian Busch: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks so much. Good. That, um, that's a really interesting question. And, and I, I think, you know, when you think about serendipity, a lot of times you might have this thing. You might've bumped into someone five years ago. And then now you read a book and you're like, oh my God, that person I met five years ago, they talked about this.
Maybe now it's the time we can finally start the company. And, and, and, and, and that's the first step, right? That's the thought. But then now actually starting the company, doing this, going through the motions, that's exactly the kind of domestic despair script part, and also in our personalized. It's not enough to just bump into the potential like LaVar life.
We have to go on dates. We have to charm them and, and, and so on. So it's kind of, it is a process right. Of, of, of doing this. And, uh, I think it's toughest of course, in, in situations of crisis. Right. Because a lot of times when we think about what we talked about, [00:48:00] serendipity can come out of like beautiful moments, but a lot of times it comes out of crisis, right.
It comes out of accidents that comes out. Um, in the case of Viagra kind of things that go wrong, or at least kind of that, that could be perceived as going wrong. Um, and I think the interesting thing, there is two things that I found really useful is one is to take the long view. So to always think about in every situation, does this really matter in five years from now?
I guess that it's, that kind of. Now that, you know, I spilled that glass on the floor and yes, it, it really is bad that this will cost money, but in five years from now, will I even remember this? I don't think so. So, so will I be too worried about that incident? Probably not. Versus there's a couple of, you know, as a parent now I'm realizing, you know, how.
Um, high consequence decision. There are with a kid, right? Like you, and, and, and so I think it's kind of that as a metric has helped me a lot to say, okay, what's the long view perspective here. And then realizing that a lot of these, uh, things that go wrong could be an inflection point for something even better.[00:49:00]
A breakup in a relationship might be the one door that needed to be opened for the real person to come in and things like this. I think that that kind of reframing, um, has helped me a lot to reframe the situation and try to find it one meaningful thing. Um, I'll, I'll talk about this in one second about Victor Franco, because I think that it wraps it up, but the second point that I think is more interesting.
And then regardless, there's a lot to learn nothing from Adam Grant and others who have been looking into the question of perseverance grids. And so in one practice that they do, um, I think he learned that from, from Sheryl Sandberg when, when she lost her husband and, and they, they had a lot of conversations around this.
And one of the things that, that, um, like w w was kind of at the core was to say, how do I take myself out of situations? So how do I, if I am in a particular emotional situation, um, how do I now, for example, what is the advice I would give a friend. And that kind of like, lets us go out of this kind of system one.
Oh my God. Everything is kind of chaos to system two. Oh actually, [00:50:00] Hey, maybe there's something I can do about this situation. Maybe there's something I can control. There's this just uncontrollable stuff that's happening here. And so I'm a big fan of this idea of similar to how we do it with kids. Right.
We ask kids. Right. What would you do versus like, just giving them the advice when they, when they, when they are in a crisis and doing the same thing, I think that gives us a lot of times this kind of ability to then pull through, because we're like, okay, it might not be as bad as we thought. Um, I think there's a lot of other practices for the sake of.
I just wanted to, to, to wrap it up with Viktor Frankl. Um, because I feel like he speaks a lot to the first point in terms of how do we find grit and tenacity in the toughest of situations? Because I think we all have seen really tough times at the moment and, and, and some even more than others, right. Um, that the pandemic has accelerated societal inequality.
And I think, um, that's, by the way, a point we could probably talk about this very different starting positions for people when it comes to serendipity based on, um, you know, the societal background, but Viktor Frankl, [00:51:00] essentially. Um, what I found fascinating about him is that even when there was objectively, no meaning in a moment, he would create a meaning.
So, so he was in a concentration camp, which, which is the toughest of situations. Uh, where everyday you might die. There's no hope like objectively. There's no hope. And he still said, look, every day, now I will talk with another fellow prisoner and, and make them feel better. And, and now I have a reason to wake up to more and more.
Now, I, I created a meaning of still wanting to live. And I think that's kind of the interesting thing that in every moment there's still some kind of meaning we can create, even if there isn't an objective, meaning to it. And I think that's what serendipity, a lot of times it's about making accidents.
Celia Hannon: Really fascinating. And on this theme of, um, I guess grit or resilience, if I were to play devil's advocate for a second question, it would be possible to say that the idea of making your own luck has something in common with, with philosophies of [00:52:00] rugged individualism. Um, and that it could even actually minimize, you know, the structural disadvantage that we know most people.
Nice. So do you think that, um, seven different given it's often about recognizing commonalities can actually have a multiplying effect for grapes? You have, have the edge in terms of the advantages that life has afforded
Christian Busch: them? Yeah, absolutely. And I think so. I think there's two elements to it. One is the structure one-on-one is an individual and on the structural side, there's.
We have very different starting positions in life. I mean, when I work with a social entrepreneur who was in the Cape flats and Cape town who doesn't have access to education, who doesn't have access to networks and so on, very different starting position to meet here now in the west village, in New York where, you know, there's education, there's access to networks and so on and so very different starting positions.
And then to your point, like it kind of multiplies in the sense of, it's almost like, like interest on the bank, right? That the better your starting position beginning, the more likely. Um, but more of that will happen. And so this is why I'm a [00:53:00] big fan. On the structural side, we do a lot of work with policymakers around.
How do you create ecosystems for that? Especially for those people who are less privileged. So for example, um, if you think about scholarships to kids from less privileged, privileged backgrounds, it's not just about the scholarship. You can put a kid into an amazing school, but if they then after getting out of school, Don't get a job because they don't have the connections that the others have.
Then you only did part of your job. And so it's really about saying, how do I then directly put three mentors that are kind of working with them with it or whatever it is, how do you create an ecosystem that actually levels the playing field more and more? It puts them into a good starting position. I think I'm a big fan that are really thinking about linking social capital.
So the. How do you not over-focus on particular groups themselves, but rather say if you have groups that are impoverished, for example, in groups that are kind of extremely well-off, how do you make sure that there's cross mentorship both ways, by the way, there's a lot to learn. I think from, from, from people who are in tough contexts and, um, that's a lot of our [00:54:00] focus actually reverse mentoring.
Um, there's, there's so much more to learn a lot of times from someone who grew up in a challenging environment for someone who didn't and the other way around. And so I think there's a lot there. So the long story, short videos, I think there's a lot around kind of, um, policies for that Lincoln Capitol.
But, but one thing that I think, um, to me is at the core of this work. And I think, um, this was, to me, the biggest mindset shift was around 10 years ago when I started working in substantive. I went into the context. And I said, I asked that, like I asked the people that worked there, what is the one question should never ask you as the person who comes into your context here?
And the answer was never asked us first, what we need, because if you asked us what we need as the first question you put us into the role of the victim of the beneficiary is someone who kind of needs your benevolence. Versus if you come in and say, Hey, what can we do together? Like, is there something we can work on today?
Then you can still afterwards think about resourcing, but now it's about us starting out as, as equal partners. And, and to me, that really struck because I think a [00:55:00] lot of the development efforts over the last decades have focused on quote unquote, lower needs, right? Give people a bit of food, give them a bit of education.
And this. But actually what people are longing for is to create their own luck. Like I want to, when I'm the father of a girl or a boy or someone in a, in a, in the Cape trust in Cape town, I don't want the UN to kind of cross subsidize me and make me feel like I failed raising my kids to myself. I want to have a job where I can do that myself.
And so it's really kind of, I think a lot of this focus on giving people, resources has focused on like, has this empowered people versus a lot of the focus of this work is. How do you enable people to create their own smart lock? And so the reason I'm bringing this up here is that I think to your question, there's the structural question where societal inequality potentially exacerbate some of the things we talked about, but at the same time, the mindset.
And the piece of how people can create their own luck. It's especially important in those contexts. And I've seen this in our own research, those people who have the kind of mindset going about it, like creating their own [00:56:00] luck and then government coming in and supporting them, doing that. That's where the real change happens.
That's where hope comes in. That's where people get excited versus kind of like, you know, people being left behind because they just get thrown money at, but nothing really happens in terms of what they feel. They can create the.
Celia Hannon: Um, I'm just going to try and squeeze in one really quick question if I can.
Cause VIM has a really interesting question on LinkedIn about whether or not, um, actually, uh, embracing complexity might, um, be a better approach rather than focusing just on the problem. And I know you're really interested in this because in the book, it's sort of contrary to a lot of the, um, the research and approaches on, on innovation, which really focuses on.
Specifying the problem, but you saying, you say that actually over specifying the problem prevents us accessing unexpected solutions. I just wanted to say a couple of quick things on that for them.
Christian Busch: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much. It's a great one. And I think that's a balance that's extremely tough to get, right.
This balance between, [00:57:00] um, time was openness to it to opportunity. So that's in a way, you know, how do we define focus time versus, um, um, kind of the openness to it? I'm a big believer in this kind of life cycle idea. Like, for example, when you write a book right at the beginning, you're super open, certainly, but EA give me more ideas and then you're hiding in the basement and just write it down and get it done because you have to execute.
I that's lot of times how you do it also in startups and other settings, right. That you might have an explorative phase where serendipity is, you want a little bit, and then you have the execution where you say, okay, a bit less now, please. Um, but, but, um, but I think in general, um, to Celia's point where it gets really interesting, there's really interesting research, those of your interns.
By a phone hippo and from crock around the idea of, of how do you create, uh, opportunities, spaces, where essentially you don't over define the problem or a solution, because that keeps you from actually coming up with different ideas. So for example, I mean, that's of course the case, especially when it comes to social and environmental issues that are so complex, that we can't really [00:58:00] know everything.
And so we have to rubber stamp a lot of time, but also then with. Trivial things. Right? So for example, if I'm the manager of someone and say, we have to cut costs, now they will focus on cost cutting. Right now, they will think about how do I produce this cheaper and this cheaper. Versus if I tell them we have to become more profitable or we have to, uh, in a way do something about our financial situation, they might also think about how to get more revenue.
They might also think how to maybe increase the price, because that might be a better positioning for the product and bring more money. Depending on how we define the problem and to the potential space that people can operate in. Um, we either kind of cut them or we open it up. And I think, especially with societal problems, um, oversimplifying things, a lot of times leads to unintended consequences.
And I think I'm a big fan to not focus too much on outposts, but more on, on, on, on figuring out what is the outcomes we really want to achieve. And then kind of, um, you know, uh, develop around this. And I guess that's the whole conversation in.
Celia Hannon: But there are so many threads to pick up and, [00:59:00] and, and so many interesting comments in the chat that we just haven't had time to get into.
But thank you so much, Christian. That was so illuminating. Um, I know I'm probably going to behave a little bit differently, or at least keep my eyes open for, um, 10 pound notes lying around. Thank you everyone for joining us, Dave, for your brilliant questions. Um, you're about to see a link shared in the chat for your feedback on the event.
Tell us what you think and what you'd like to hear more of in the future. Um, take a look also our upcoming event with Margaret Heffernan. If you liked this conversation, she's going to be talking to us about her work on uncertainty and leadership blind spots. Have a great afternoon. Thank you again, Christian and goodbye.
Christian Busch: Thank you so much. Goodbye. .
Can unforeseen events and serendipitous experiences create opportunities for innovation and change?
From chance meetings to accidental encounters that spark life-changing ideas, innovation expert Dr Christian Busch believes that we can identify the meaning behind lucky streaks, and take advantage of them. His latest book Connect the Dots brings together a decade of research on the power of serendipity.
For Dr Busch “unforeseen events aren’t just minor distractions…the unexpected is often the critical factor, it’s often the force that makes the greatest difference in our lives.”
Unexpected encounters have changed the course of scientific research, from the accidental discovery of penicillin to the invention of the microwave. How far could serendipity change the course of innovation in the future?
On 3 February 2022, Dr Christian Busch spoke with Nesta's Directory of Discovery Hub, Celia Hannon, on 3 February at 12:00 to learn more.
This event was designed for those working in innovation, research, design, entrepreneurship, or anyone interested in learning about how unexpected luck can create opportunity.
Dr Christian Busch talked about his extensive research into the role of serendipity and discuss how we can identify and harness good luck to our advantage in our professional and personal lives and within the innovation sector.
Dr Christian Busch, FRSA, (he/him) is an internationally known expert in the areas of innovation, purpose-driven leadership, and serendipity. He teaches at New York University (NYU) and the London School of Economics (LSE), and is the Director of the CGA Global Economy Program. Christian's new book, CONNECT THE DOTS: THE ART & SCIENCE OF CREATING GOOD LUCK (Penguin Random House) has been highlighted as a "wise, exciting, and life-changing book" (Arianna Huffington) that “offers excellent practical guidance for all” (Paul Polman). Previously, Christian co-directed the LSE's Innovation Lab and co-founded the Sandbox Network, a global community of young innovators, as well as Leaders on Purpose, an organization convening purpose-driven CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Dr. Busch frequently speaks at conferences such as the World Economic Forum (WEF), TEDx, and Financial Times Sustainability Summit, and has guest-lectured at Stanford University (US), Peking University (China), and Strathmore Business School (Kenya). He is member of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Expert Forum, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, among Diplomatic Courier’s "Top 99 Influencers", and on the Thinkers50 Radar list of the 30 thinkers “most likely to shape the future.” His work has been featured by outlets such as the Strategic Management Journal, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, The Guardian, and the BBC. He received his PhD from the LSE.