Need to Innovate? Just Get Lucky

To Innovate, You’ve Got To Get Lucky.

Previously on this blog, I’ve talked about how in order to be successful, you need to get lucky. Some people think that getting lucky is a total fluke – a black swan that simply swoops and suddenly propels you into the stratosphere of success.

What if I told you that you could improve your luck? No luck with lottery drawing, but luck in other areas. Like being lucky when finding a $20 bill on the ground or lucky in bumping into a new prospective investor for your startup?

Would you believe that there are a few studies on luck? Very few, since many people believe that luck cannot be quantified. That luck really is a bolt from the blue unpredictable. However, the reality is that there is a science to luck, and you can actually improve your luck. And help you innovate.

I’ve already discussed a few of these in previous posts, but let me map this out. In Dr. Richard Wiseman’s book, The Luck Factor, he maps out four different principles which lucky people seem to have:

  1. They are able to maximize their chance opportunities
  2. They listen to their lucky hunches
  3. They expect good fortune
  4. They turn bad luck into good

I’d like to focus on the first one – maximizing your chance opportunities. One of the most important ways we innovate is to attempt to trigger serendipity, the happy accidents that help you move forward and succeed. In this principle, Dr. Wiseman indicates three key aspects one must have in order to maximize chance opportunities:

  1. High extroversion
  2. Low Neuroticism
  3. High Openness

Extroverts have few issues striking up conversations with new people, so they are more likely to meet and get to know people who may be able to help them. Neurotic people tend to be less relaxed than others, spending too much time in deep focus on “the next thing that they need to do” and not being able to see opportunities that may come up. And finally, if you are highly open and observant to new things and new opportunities, you may see things that others miss.

Combine these factors, he says, and it will likely make you luckier.

Funnily enough, these are exactly the same traits you need to be innovative. So is innovation luck? In many ways, it is: I’d argue that innovative ideas and concepts are always swirling around us, and all we need to do is look around us to innovate.