Success is based on more than just luck. 1

In my own little celebration this week for the book The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion by John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison, I am doing a series of blog post and offering comments on how this book has influenced my thoughts. This book has been one of my staples in the development of Lean Sales and Marketing and in particular on how I view creating demand.

From YouTube: By choosing the right kind of environment and cultivating the practices that will help find new ideas, one can take inspiration from unlikely sources. Furthermore, deep listening with reciprocity – meaning not only digging for good ideas from others, but offering them back in return – is a valuable skill to nurture. John Seely Brown, Independent Co-Chairman of Deloitte Center for the Edge, believes that this is the way that powerful and valuable relationships are built.

How do you influence Serendipity? If you go back to my blog post, The Ultimate Demand Creator: Lean Engagement Teams, you will notice that I am talking about building relationships based on deep listening and reciprocity. This is one of the first steps in creating demand. In the book, the authors state five different ways to shape serendipity:

  1. Choosing environments that increase encountering people who share our passion
  2. Becoming and staying visible to the people who matter most
  3. Influencing their endeavors so they amplify our own
  4. Discovering and interacting with the right people at the right time.
  5. Make the most of every encounter.

This sounds very simple in nature, from attending conferences to online networking. There is hardly anything earthshattering.  There is a very important point to this discussion. The authors do mention it in their book, it is the practice of exposing surfaces. They use the metaphor of how quickly sugar enters your bloodstream as a result of its small size thus many surfaces area are exposed.

This metaphor is a perfect example of why Lean Engagement Teams are needed in the sales and marketing arena. We must be able to expose our organization’s engineering, IT, purchasing, etc. to our customer’s organization’s engineering, IT, purchasing, etc. These multiple points of contact, increase the likelihood of serendipity and make each conversation more relevant.

More on this practice from John Seely Brown:

By appropriating knowledge and thinkers from a broader scope of learning – i.e. exposing more “surfaces”, knowledge from outside a field of expertise can be banked and extremely valuable to stirring up innovation in one’s own sector. He cites an example of one man who travels to a far-flung conference every year simply to strategize and learn to think outside his comfort zone. Taking an interest in energy (a field outside his own), he created programs and legislation that yielded effective results.

I liken this to creating more surfaces downstream from a customer. This is common practice with many firms that go to market through dealers. But I believe that is incorrect thinking. It is where your product is being used that the experience is created for innovation.  If you want to create a broader scope of learning visit not only the place of use of your product/service but the result of that use, your customer’s customer.

Have you started considering Lean Engagement Teams?