Facilitating Serendipity

A few weeks ago I attended a seminar given by a young man from UCL titled “Designing to Encourage Serendipity – an Oxymoron?”. He wanted to facilitate, through interaction design, the conditions for serendipity to take place. What a strange idea. Or is it?

Serendipity is considered a ‘happy accident’. A fortunate discovery that you did not expect to make. I’m rather fond of serendipity. Many of what I consider the best things that have happened in my life, I put down to serendipity. Meeting my husband is one. My current job is another. Life is full of these moments.

The idea of artificially creating the conditions for it however, seems impossible. How do you know which conditions, events or actions will lead to a happy accident? If I think about the things that I attribute to serendipity there are few common factors. The big one they do all have in common is that I was open to the opportunities that arose unexpectedly.

Creativity is like that. The connections we make when trying to creatively solve a problem is often serendipitous. A combination of several ideas coming together to form a new and surprising idea. We’re only able to make these connections, if we’re open to the potential outcomes. We can facilitate the conditions for which creativity can happen. So perhaps the idea that we can facilitate serendipitous outcomes might not be quite so farfetched after all?

What’s your take on it?

Author: Kristine Pitts