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Maximising Serendipity - NLPtCA Conference 2013
 

Maximising Serendipity - NLPtCA Conference 2013

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It’s clear why researchers, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs would be interested in serendipity, but why would psychotherapists? When we think of serendipity, the sensational examples catch ...

It’s clear why researchers, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs would be interested in serendipity, but why would psychotherapists? When we think of serendipity, the sensational examples catch the eye: vulcanisation, velcro and viagra for instance. Yet there are many more smaller but no less significant instances of serendipity at the personal level. Although the ‘ah-ha’ moments get all the press, they are only a small part of the serendipity process that Penny Tompkins and I mapped into six stages. We regularly see our clients go through a similar process and supporting them to maximise serendipity is one the most important parts of our work.

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    Maximising Serendipity - NLPtCA Conference 2013 Maximising Serendipity - NLPtCA Conference 2013 Presentation Transcript

    • Maximising Serendipity The art of recognising and fostering unexpected potential A Systemic Approach to Change James Lawley NLPtCA Conference, June 2013
    • Presentation Preamble Maximising Serendipity: The art of recognising and fostering unexpected potential - A Systemic Approach to Change It’s clear why researchers, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs would be interested in serendipity, but why would psychotherapists? When we think of serendipity, the sensational examples catch the eye: vulcanisation, velcro and viagra for instance. Yet there are many more smaller but no less significant instances of serendipity at the personal level. Although the ‘ah-ha’ moments get all the press, they are only a small part of the serendipity process that Penny Tompkins and I mapped into six stages. We regularly see our clients go through a similar process and supporting them to maximise serendipity is one the most important parts of our work. 
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Apelles of Kos (4th century BC) 3
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 And then what happened? 4
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 invented in 1948 by Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral. 5
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Where did these come from? 6
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Charles Goodyear accidentally spilled a rubber mixture on a hot stove and discovered that heating natural rubber and sulphur created a durable and flexible material 7
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 What else did he notice? What’s the connection? 8
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 • Sildenafil citrate, started as UK92480, a new treatment for angina, • Male patients said it did nothing for their heart but strange things happened in another part of their anatomy ... • Now we know it asViagra (Pfizer) 9
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 What is serendipity? Coined by Horace Walpole in 1754 after reading about the adventures of TheThree Princes of Serendip who ‘were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of ...’ 10 Sagacity = keen mental discernment and good judgment. From Latin sagax, ʻwiseʼ .
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 And it is not ... Synchronicity: Two events apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner. (Carl Gustav Jung) 11 This simple definition compresses several aspects/stages in the process of serendipity. See slide 14. or
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 What kinds of serendipity were involved in the velcro, vulcanisation and viagra examples? 12
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Kinds of serendipity Not looking for, yet find an unexpected connection and create something new Looking for a solution, and stumble upon a new way of doing it Expecting one thing, and finding something different applies elsewhere 13
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 The Serendipity Process E+1 Recognise Potential E Unexpected Event E-1 Prepared Mind E+2 Seize the Moment E+3 Amplify Effects E+4 Evaluate Effects Iterative circularity ! 14
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Exercise: When did serendipity happen in your development? E+1 Recognise Potential E-1 Prepared Mind E+2 Seize the Moment E+3 Amplify Effects E+4 Evaluate Effects E Unexpected Event ! 15
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Louis Pasteur “In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.” Curiosity help too. E-1 Prepared Mind 16
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 • An event that is unanticipated, anomalous, random etc. E Unexpected Event! 17
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 • Requires someone to detect or recognise the unexpected event as potentially serendipitous. Detecting ‘potential’ involves an evaluation. Because ‘potential’ has not yet happened it must be a forward-facing evaluation. • While it is impossible to know in advance the long-term consequences of any event, a person with expertise in noticing serendipity learns to detect a ‘pattern of potential’. E+1 Recognise Potential 18
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 • Having stumbled on to something, it is essential that the chance event or ‘mistake’ is acted upon. • Choosing the appropriate action to preserve and amplify the potential, not necessarily the event, is a skill in itself.The action can occur immediately after the recognition of the potentially serendipitous event, or much later. E+2 Seize the Moment 19
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 • Make friends with the Law of Unintended Consequences: • It often takes a confluence of effects to turn an event from an interesting anomaly into serendipity — you need to be both in the right place and at the right time. • Network effects such as amplifying feedback loops and contagions will come into play. E+3 Amplify Effects 20
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 • E+1 to E+4 often require multiple iterative processes that work from the small to the large scale. • Many small-scale serendipitous events may be required before a large-scale breakthough occurs. • Qualities like persistence, determination and sometimes bloody-mindedness are useful Iterative Circularity 21
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 And the significance for psychotherapists? If ... ✓ Information is not transformation. ✓ Affect is not effect. ✓ Insight is not foresight. what are we looking for? 22
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Isaac Asimov  "The most exciting phrase to hear in science is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'."                             E+1 Recognise Potential 23
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 The unexpected will turn up unexpectedly, we don’t need to make it happen. Surprise is the unexpected knocking to come in. But opening the door will disturb the equilibrium Can we accept the invitation even when we may be off-balance? If our clients and their inner worlds do not continually surprise us, how open are we to changing our minds? 24
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Exercise: Self-modelling detection signals • How do you know when there is a ‘potential for change’ moment? • What lets you know when the client is having a serendipitous moment ? • How do you know when something small is happening that could have a big effect? (NB.These are 3 ways of asking the same question) 25
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Malcolm Gladwell “Insight is not a lightbulb that goes off inside our heads. It is a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out.” ✓ Stay with the moment - extend it just before during just after 26
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Albert Einstein "Nothing happens until something moves." ✓ Develop the vector Amplify effects Iterate, iterate, iterate Look for positive feedback loops and contagions. 27
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 I’ll leave you with a final thought: Learn to distinguish between the sensational and the salient 28
    • James Lawley, Maximising Serendipity, NLPtCA Conference 2013 Further reading: http://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/articles/blogs/85/ Maximising-Serendipity-for-Personal-Change.html http://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/articles/articles/224/1/ Maximising-Serendipity/Page1.html 29