How to engineer serendipity

Author: Greg Lindsay @Greg_Lindsay
Commentator: Carol Read

Posted in: Transforming Leadership
From: Issue 14

WHAT WE THINK

Serendipity

1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.

2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.

3. An instance of making such a discovery.

When I curate for The Edge various tools are used such as Flipboard, Feedly and Pocket which look at key areas I have defined to provide content. Artificial intelligence from such curation tools to date do not have that human touch which can understand exactly what may resonate with health and care change agents. These tools are still blunt instruments which are set up to a certain pattern and can only second guess what content may be suitable. Computer-mediated “serendipity” is the next new thing and apparently being worked on as highlighted in Lindsay’s article. Who knows where this could lead?

The internet is constantly full of conflicting messages and diverse content. Therefore, true curation requires sifting of content and using trusted networks of strong and weak ties to identify knowledge that is relevant. Jache (2015)  highlights the serendipitous nature of this approach to uncover tacit knowledge. For me curation is about going off on a tangent and following diverse people who lead me to brilliant and unusual content. The Edge mission is to seek sense and share content which people can use to bring about transformational change in their area.

Our Edge community now established at 44,000 users in 140 countries includes staff, patients, carers and individuals from sectors outside Health and Social care which help serendipitous tacit learning via the network. The launch of The Edge 2.0 will bring greater community connection and flexibility for users to curate and share content. We have spent a year beta testing the platform so really want to hear what you think of the new look and functionality. Let us know via @theedgenhs, our email or comment on the site.

Finally, enjoy the article which raises great points on how to ‘engineer serendipity’ and will spark ideas on how you can try various approaches in the workplace. You may not be able to redesign a campus as highlighted here.  Why not take the underlying serendipitous principles though and see what you can do? Could you organise randomised coffee trials for people to connect (more about RCT’s in the next cohort of School for Health Care Radicals.

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Carol joined the Horizons Team in December 2014 as an NHS England Fellow and curator of The EdgeNHS...


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