I was struck by a line in a terrific blog post by Ian Leslie I read that said ” Google can answer almost anything you ask it, but it cannot tell you what to ask”
It is totally counter-intuitive to consider that the power of the web is now narrowing our horizons, and that by succumbing to the lure of the algorithm, we are dismissing the beauty of serendipity, that unexpected discovery, the thing we would never have seen were it not for “right time, right place”. It does not seem to matter if it is a scientific discovery, Fleming recognising that the growth on his slide was killing all the bacteria around it, or just finding a book in a bookstore that is “right” somehow, these thing s cannot happen on Amazon, or in isolation.
The question then becomes how do you create serendipity?
You need to be messy, cross- functional, collaborative, iterative, and work with an open mind, as well as applying discipline to the scientific method of process improvement, practicing what I call Loose-tight , or ambidextrous management.
This ambidexterity is not easy. It takes leadership, an enabling culture, and a deft hand, but the results speak for themselves. Combining the ability to mine the accumulated knowledge of all of us, with the creativity inherent in human nature when it is open-minded and free to make non linear connections will eventually lead you to ask the right questions, and reveal what you do not know.
Once you see the question, serendipity has a chance.