On a Collision Course to Innovation
My previous post on serendipity and randomness has caused a #RCUS (Random Collisions of Unusual Suspects via Saul Kaplan)! Many of you have commented, shared personal experiences of Random “happy accidents” and cited “serendipity” research. Thank you!
Let’s look at the 2nd letter – C: Collisions. It originated in the early 15th Century as the Middle French collision from the same period of Latin collisionen, “a dashing together”. The definitions imply a variety of outcomes: 1) the act or process of colliding; a crash or conflict; 2) Physics: a brief dynamic event consisting of the close approach of two or more particles, such as atoms, resulting in an abrupt change of momentum or exchange of energy [emphasis mine]. While the first definition is rather violent, and innovation can arise from major clashes and conflicts, the 2nd definition is closer to type of Collision in #RCUS.
Think about the people you have met, collided into (virtually or literally), and the relationships and results – personal and professional. Here are but a very few, examples:
- A friend of mine deliberately collided with a very cute guy on the NYC subway (not Random) and 25 yrs. later, they are still married with a kid going to college.
- Last year, I was on a flight, buried in my reading, as was the guy next to me. For some serendipitous reason, we started chatting and now he’s a great client making a remarkable positive impact on his people.
- Through 3 different collisions, I collided with the creator of My Little Pony®. Sid Good is a terrific guy, fellow alum, makes me laugh a lot and together we’re working on some interesting ways to transform our region (and he’s going to BIF7!).
What do these have in common? In each of these, the collision caused a big change of momentum, an exchange of energy to say the least. Something ‘new’ came from each of these: relationships, kids, ways to work, corporate cultures, products, and ways to collaborate. The sum of the parts is indeed greater than the parts. The Collision formed new ‘stuff’ – intangible and tangible. It’s not just about running into someone and having a nice chat; it’s about running into someone that creates enough energy to create more energy and more collisions. That’s what is so exciting and energizing. When you meet someone and create something together, isn’t that just amazing? It’s almost hard to express how profound it can be. This has, blessedly, been the story of my life at many levels, so I’m a little enthusiastic. The power of the collisions’ outcomes can create solutions to wicked problems, can change ghettos into urban neighborhoods, can transform a stagnant corporation into a living company, can create vaccines for horrid diseases, and can change just one life.
So, my usual question – what collisions have been transformative for you? How did they happen? What new ‘thing’ came from them? Where will your next collision come from? Please continue to share your Randoms and Collisions in the comments, on twitter, or to me! #RCUS on!
Deb, founder of Mills-Scofield LLC, is an innovator, entrepreneur and non-traditional strategist with 20 years experience in industries ranging from the Internet to Manufacturing with multinationals to start ups. She is also a partner at Glengary LLC, a Venture Capital Firm.