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Seats2Meet, global conference, Utrecht 23.3.2015


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Harnessing serendipity - the role of the emergent competence platforms

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Seats2Meet, global conference, Utrecht 23.3.2015

  1. 1. Harnessing serendipity – the role of emergent competence platforms Ilkka Kakko @Serendipitor Seats2Meet, Utrecht 23.3.2015
  2. 2. The benefits of coworking © Lee Fleming 2004 /HBR November 2004 Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
  3. 3. ”Postnormal Era” is emerging • The “Big Shift” - The most useful information is flowing - The most dynamic way to motivate is “movement” - The most effective way to organize resources is based on competence platforms - The driving force is passion - The success of new ventures is decided by the social capital involved - The ultimate happiness is achieved with Work – Learn – Play integration • Pull instead of push - “Access is more important than ownership” - The era of antifragile ecosystems which gain from VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity *) Ref: “Postnormal era” was coined by Stowe Boyd, Big Shift is a term by John Hagel et al presented in a book “The Power of Pull”, “Antifragile” is a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  4. 4. Access vs. ownership – platform economy
  5. 5. Big Shift ?
  6. 6. Serendipity Definition: • Serendipity is a quality of mind, which through awareness, sagacity and good fortune allows one to frequently discover something good while looking for something else • It illustrates also the process leading to serendipitous findings Background: • The Persian fable from 6th century ”The Travels and Adventures of Three Princes of Serendip” • Horace Walpole coined the word 1754 in his letter to Horace Mann Work Learn Play
  7. 7. Examples of serendipity Science: Archimedes Columbus Penicillin X-rays Teflon …more than 200 examples in the book (1989)  and after 1989 in business: • Post It • Viagra • SMS messaging • Bitcoin • Graphene • …….. Work Learn Play
  8. 8. Elements of Serendipity Elements: • Unexpected (event, encounter, use), surprising and odd finding, contradictions • Insight, discovery, act of noticing • Value created • Prepared (mind, community, organization) The challenge : • To understand it • To create environments for it • To harness it The picture, Stephann Makri / SerenA project
  9. 9. The benefits of coworking © Lee Fleming 2004 /HBR November 2004 Discovery consist of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought Anabel Quas- Haase presentation / YouTube:!
  10. 10. Plan, design, engineer, manage, harness….. There are several ways to describe the purpose of gaining from serendipity : ”Planned serendipity”, Muller&Becker ”Design for serendipity”, Hagel&Seely Brown&Davison ”Maximize serendipity around you”, Nassim Nicholas Taleb ”Engineering serendipity” ”Cultivating serendipity” … also serendipity engines (Google), serendipity machines (Seats2Meet) are mentioned Coincidensity – diversity and density (Stowe Boyd / Matt Biddulph) Synchronicity – Joseph Jaworski et al. (Jung….) My terminology: > ”Harnessing serendipity” on individual and community level and > ”Serendipity management” on institutional and organizational level
  11. 11. Luck vs. preparedness ”If an unexpected event or encounter will turn out to be fruitful and create some value, will depend largely on one’s ability to discover and be insightful. Therefore, ”getting lucky” is in most cases a matter of preparedness and not a result of pure luck”.
  12. 12. Definition of Serendipity Management “Serendipity management is a comprehensive set of tools and facilitation methodologies, which through: * workspace design-both physical and virtual - and * facilitation of unexpected encounters and collective insight will support the emergence of new combinations of competences and the generation of breakthrough ideas.” (
  13. 13. Three types of serendipitous findings © Lee Fleming 2004 /HBR November 2004
  14. 14. Platforms Exchange platforms:  Enablers  Huge value creation for platform provider  Agora - principle Development platforms:  More like ecosystems  Apple, Android, Linux, Ubuntu  Competence platforms only emerging
  15. 15. Virtual collaboration platform-GLOW 2006 Work Learn Play GLOW; netWork Oasis, Joensuu Science Park
  16. 16. Competence platforms Successful competence platform: • supports to find and create topics (”swarms”) of mutual interests • creates a real ecosystem => Skills and Wills properly documented • have the ability of the best learning platforms (ref. John Hagel) --- the competence levels of all engaged will improve => the possibility to create unique combinations of competences • uses the elements of gamification in an encouraging way • creates trust by blending social and business activities - the cohesive power is both bonding and identity –a balanced mix is needed • is able to measure and evaluate the performance of individuals and teams => inheritance respected and required => VBE practices applied (see more: Camarinha-Matos&Afsarmanesh ”Collaborative Networks: Reference Modeling”; Springer 2008)
  17. 17. Competence platforms: challenges The mistakes to avoid / to learn in building a competence platform: • not able to create a critical mass => NOTE: an exponential growth curve • not enough critical success stories and testimonials from the very beginning! • ontological challenges when describing and classifying the competences • self-assesment vs. peer evaluation • psychological barriers especially in internal company platforms • too much focus on coincidensity --- diversity and density • integration to project management and documentation software is missing – or is on the poor level
  18. 18. Critical success factor Y X VALUE NUMBER OF USERS
  19. 19. The future Competence platforms are a lucrative business, yet in its infancy: • many development projects are running at the moment • there will be a rush of competence platform launches in 2015 • the big players might dominate the field on the long run – at least when acquiring some of the promising first runners • competence platform will be an integral part of any ambitious innovation ecosystem  The main beneficiaries will be freelancer communities, innovation intermediaries (like STPs and regional and national development companies), coworking chains and consortiums and those big companies which follow extended enterprise practises
  20. 20. What it takes? ”There is no more powerful way to attract new ideas and interesting and inspiring people to you, than leading a meaningful life!” Muller&Becker 2012
  21. 21. Thank you! For further information: Ilkka Kakko + 358 50 536 2941 Twitter: @Serendipitor