Sometimes things don't go right. Sociologist Charles Perrow’s normal accident theory put the problem succinctly: ‘in complex systems we should expect that minor factors we can usually ignore will by chance sometimes cause major incidents’. The theory is usually applied with reference to a disaster, but it can equally apply to unexpected successes.
Much, much worse when opportunity presents itself and we fail to recognise it. We’re often blind to opportunity because we're too busy delivering.
As we execute we confront a series of emergent situations that we need to adapt too. Luck, both good and bad, will impact what you do. Much of the work we do at Get Real is helping people navigate systems that have a high degree of variance. Creating space and context in a busy delivery schedule to evaluate assumptions and look at opportunities is hard. Often our clients are so focused on delivery that they fail to sense check what we are doing to make sure that we're working on the right thing. Sometimes you need to ask ‘why’, not ‘what’.
Sportsmen talk about luck - good and bad - and how it affects their success. Golfer Arnold Palmer is often credited with saying 'The more I practice, the luckier I get'. Palmer's quote overlooks this important nuance. Yes, good luck is informed by preparation, hard work, and skill. But without observation - seeing the opportunity - we often fail. We miss. You need to take time to observe. Scientist Louis Pasteur understood observation: 'Where observation is concerned, chance favours the prepared mind.'
'My prepared minds are busy!' I hear you cry. But it is exactly those prepared minds that should be involved in helping you test assumptions. It’s hard for a small team that’s working with tight deadlines and finite resources to find time and resources. That's precisely why we developed the GetReal Decision Jam to be super time efficient. Sometimes you need to take - a small amount of -time to observe. Sometimes you need to include the busiest people in your team. We developed the GetReal Decision Jam to be super time efficient because we know from experience how busy entrepreneurial organisations are.
According to the psychologist and writer Maria Konnikova 'You're not lucky because more good things are actually happening; you are lucky because you're alert to them when they do". We can't control variance. We can control our attention and how we deploy it. A Decision Jam is super quick method for testing assumptions to help you make corrections to your business model.
A Decision Jam can be very effective is dealing with the unexpected. Remediation requires openness, observation, and creative problem solving. The problem with anything that requires openness, critical thinking, and creativity is that it’s easy to get lost, lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. A Decision Jam replaces an open, unstructured discussion with clear process. You can deploy a Decision Jam to help you manage ‘luck’ - or more correctly, develop a model that helps you handle variance in your performance. We tend to focus on the prepared mind. Work hard, practise, so when chance appears, you will notice it it. If you're not observing well, observing closely to begin with, no amount of preparation will be enough. You may be prepared, if you’re not looking, you may miss the next big thing.