It's mid-afternoon when Bill and I arrive at the little one-ticket-agent airport in Gunnison, Colorado, for our trips back home. We're on the same 28-seat eggbeater to Denver, where we'll have a quick dinner and then split — Bill to LA and me back to Boston. It's been a great week and we're in a good mood.
We have a nice chatty time with the ticket agent. As she finishes checking us in, I ask her, "Where can I get an ice cream bar?"
"Nowhere around here," she replies. "Do you have a car?"
"No…I guess we're out of luck, huh?"
"Want to use my car?"
I stifle a gasp. She wants to lend us her car so we can get ice cream? I check to see if we're still on planet Earth. We are. I reply, "Sure!"
She gives us her car keys, points out her car through the airport terminal window, and directs us to a convenience store. Off we go, dumbfounded.
Serendipity. Sometimes things go right — or more than right — beyond your wildest dreams. But Serendipity needs space. You have to make time for it, you have to be open to it, and you have to pass it on.Serendipity needs space.
You have to make
time for it, you
have to be open
to it, and you
have to pass it on.
- Take time
- In the Gunnison airport, Bill and I had time to chat with the ticket agent. And we could afford the twenty minutes or so that it took us to drive to the store and back for the ice cream. Serendipity takes time.
- Be open
- In Gunnison, we were open. We expressed our desire for ice cream. When we were presented with a car, we accepted it — and we accepted responsibility for it. Openness and Acceptance make Serendipity possible.
- Pass it on
- Serendipity goes around. It's wonderful when you get some, but if you want to get it again, pass it on. That way there will be more Serendipity going around.
When it happens, Serendipity in project management works the same way. But it's rare, in part, because we're under too much pressure.
Under severe pressure, we have little time to notice Serendipity — the insight that saves a week of work, or the design idea that eliminates three components. Obliviously, we plow forward.
Even when we do notice Serendipity, a sense of pressure can keep us from accepting it — we're closed to it. Exploiting the brilliant idea can feel too risky to us when we're under pressure.
And under pressure, passing Serendipity along is impossible. To pass along a wonderfulness takes effort — exactly what we can't spare when we're up against a tight budget or deadline.
When you cut a project's budget, understand that you're cutting Serendipity, too. If you want the advantages of Serendipity in your projects, find ways to reduce the pressure. It will pay off.
Are your projects always (or almost always) late and over budget? Are your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around. Read 52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented Organizations, filled with tips and techniques for organizational leaders. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenZLkFdSHmlHvCaSsuner@ChacbnsTPttsdDaRAswloCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Give Me the Bad News First
- I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that if you wait long enough, there will be some bad
news. The good news is that the good news helps us deal with the bad news. And it helps a lot more if
we get the bad news first.
- False Summits: I
- Mountaineers often experience "false summits," when just as they thought they were nearing
the summit, it turns out that there is much more climbing to do. So it is in project work.
- Wacky Words of Wisdom: V
- Adages, aphorisms, and "words of wisdom" are true often enough that we accept them as universal.
They aren't. Here's Part V of some widely held beliefs that mislead us at work.
- Planning Disappointments
- When we plan projects, we make estimates of total costs and expected delivery dates. Often these estimates
are so wrong — in the wrong direction — that we might as well be planning disappointments.
Why is this?
- Way Too Much to Do
- You're good at your job — when you have enough time to do it. The problem is that so much comes
your way that you can't possibly attend to it all. Some things inevitably are missed or get short shrift.
If you don't change something soon, trouble is sure to arrive.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 1: The Big Power of Little Words
- Big, fancy words, like commensurate or obfuscation, tend to be more noticed than the little everyday words, like yet or best. That might be why the little words can be so much more powerful, steering conversations where their users want them to go. Available here and by RSS on February 1.
- And on February 8: Kerfuffles That Seem Like Something More
- Much of what we regard as political conflict is a series of squabbles commonly called kerfuffles. They captivate us while they're underway, but after a month or two they're forgotten. Why do they happen? Why do they persist? Available here and by RSS on February 8.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenZLkFdSHmlHvCaSsuner@ChacbnsTPttsdDaRAswloCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500-1000 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- Your stuff is brilliant! Thank you!
- You and Scott Adams both secretly work here, right?
- I really enjoy my weekly newsletters. I appreciate the quick read.
- A sort of Dr. Phil for Management!
- …extremely accurate, inspiring and applicable to day-to-day … invaluable.