In all walks of life, for individuals and organizations alike, breakthrough success is thought to be achieved through careful strategy selection, planning, analysis and execution. But according to the author, there isn’t really a “secret recipe” for success. Rather,
success is far more random and often due to serendipitous instances, which he calls the click moments.
The idea that 10,000 hours of deliberate and focused mastery (Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers) will yield success holds true, but only if the playing field does not evolve and the rules are set, e.g. chess, tennis etc. But most of us are playing in an ever changing world, where the rules change all the time. This is the reason, author argues as to why randomness, serendipity and luck play a vital role in determining success in various fields.
If success is random, how does one go about seeking it? The author suggests three strategies to harness randomness and drive success in our lives and organizations.
First is to create click moments by
1) Taking your eyes off the ball in order to see and connect with the possibilities around you. When, we focus on one thing exclusively, we tend to miss everything else around us. So take time, to explore things that are not related to your goal.
2) Using intersectional thinking. Insights gained from intersection of two or more different cultures, fields can create a click moment. Thus, make a conscious attempt to explore fields, cultures and industries diverse from your own.
3) Following your curiosity. It is the way your intuition tells you that perhaps, something interesting might be in works. It is one other key drivers that allow serendipity to happen.
4) Rejecting the predictable path. It will force your to seek random, unpredictable choices.
Second is to make purposeful bets
All the above strategies, improve the odds of creating the click moment, but that alone does not guarantee success. Indeed, one has to actually execute on the opportunity, which again requires taking actions and making bets fraught with risks. The author then recommends the following strategies for idea execution
1) Place many purposeful bets to improve your odds of success
2) Minimize the size of the bets as it not only minimizes risk but also allows you more chances to get it right
3) Take the smallest executable step that can validate the idea.
4) Calculate affordable loss, not ROI (Return on Investment). Rather than seeking maximal ROI to make decision, use the metric – If you can afford the loss do it.
5) Use passion as fuel, as it keeps us going when the bets are not working out.
Lastly, harness the complex forces
Given the world we live, our actions can often have unintended consequences that can affect the end results. There are often complex forces beyond what we can account for that allow for events and actions to change, build and or propagate in myriad ways. The author suggests the following strategies to harness the complex forces
1) Create large hooks by taking action and doing something, anything, so that the complex forces can latch on to your actions.
2) Take a closer look at unexpected surprises as they might cradle an opportunity within it.
3) Look for an opening that could be advantageous and act on it.
4) Spot momentum and intensity. They can help us identify if an idea is about to be swept up by forces exponentially greater than any we could amass on our own.
5) Double down when you have discovered complex forces working in your favor.
The book provides many real life examples to drive home the new success paradigm and is a fascinating and thought provoking read. You can get more information about the book and the author here