Serendipity2I admit, I love the word Serendipity. It rings magical, of good fortune and happy happenstance. Without much thought, I recently wrote that serendipitous discovery was one of the ways I learn, but somehow I felt I’d cheated. Serendipity alone wouldn’t necessarily lead to learning something useful, would it?

When in doubt, I turn to my favorite learning tool, Google search. I was “right” on the second part of the definition, but adds something more:

ser·en·dip·i·ty [ser-uhn-dip-i-tee]
1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck

Come again? How does one have an aptitude for luck?

Louis Pasteur said, “…chance only favors the prepared mind,” implying there was no such thing as luck in the work he did. He indeed had an aptitude for it. He was deliberately looking to see something important when it presented itself. Somehow a diamond in the rough came to mind, and having an aptitude for making lucky finds begins to make sense.

Seek-Sense-Share and Personal Knowledge Management

Harold Jarche concludes in PKM in 2013,

“Disciplined personal knowledge management brings focus to the information sea we swim in. The multiple pieces of information that we capture and share can increase the frequency of serendipitous connections, especially across disciplines and outside organizations.”

There’s no question that increasing the frequency of our connections with the outside world is essential today. There isn’t an organization on the planet where there’s more knowledge within its boundaries than outside them. But simply increasing the frequency of those interactions isn’t enough if it results in an unmanageable deluge of information. We need to be better prepared.

Personal Knowledge Management, particularly the tenets of seek-sense-share (which Harold recently referred to as the “breathing in, breathing out” of PKM), is the path toward having a prepared mind, and therefore having an aptitude for recognizing valuable learning moments when they present themselves. The increasing volume of information we encounter means we need to equally increase the efficiency with which we do our sense-making to more quickly distinguish the diamonds in the rough from rocks.

Serendipity, it seems, favors the prepared and connected mind.

Thanks for reading!

Image courtesy Fotopedia user Kevin Trotman


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