Being open to serendipity
Meandering is such a great word.
"flow in a winding course" (of rivers), 1610s, from meander (n.). Of a person or persons, "to travel on a meandering river" (1821), then "to wander aimlessly" (1831)”
I came across some research in my digital meandering, giving substance to what we know instinctively. To progress faster, we need to slow down. It’s why speed restrictions on motorways work, but the principle applies far more widely, not least to thinking. Trying to think faster makes about as much sense as asking trees to grow faster. Yet, at work, we are surrounded by exhortations and SMART mentalities to go ever faster in search of “productivity”.
This leaves us with an interesting paradox. To grow into who we are, we need the time and space to think, to meander, experiment and create substance. Work, on the other hand, would rather we just go faster in order to meet those SMART goals because even if the end results are thin and weak, the goals have been met and bonuses achieved.
My intention, from 1st August, is to meander. To encounter ideas and people in unexpected places because those I want to work with can not be “targeted”, as the opportunities we want to follow arise from conversations, not roles or job descriptions.
Serendipity is another great word.
The first noted use of "serendipity" was by Horace Walpole on 28 January 1754. In a letter he wrote to his friend Horace Mann, Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made about a lost painting of Bianca Cappello by Giorgio Vasari by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were "always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of." Wikipedia
Exaptation is another. From biology, it describes how a trait developed for one purpose is co-opted to fulfil another. Bird’s feathers were originally a cooling feature, later adapted for flight. Sergey Brin and Larry Page exapted Tim Berners-Lee’s hypertext format to develop Google’s PageRank algorithm.
I think our straight-line, SMART, goal-based innovation impoverishes our imaginations. It is looking to extract more from what we already have rather than find new material that may take longer to reach maturity. I think we need new ideas not bounded by limiting habits of return on investment. Too many of our current efforts are of the mechanically recovered meat variety.
For my own part and my own experiment, I want to go off the beaten track and outside the professional enclosures that often limit us. I want to write about new, more than comment on what already is.
I intend to meander.