Convergence Colloquia: Cultivating serendipity for community action

Connection nodes

By Carissa Slotterback

Chance encounters and accidental inspirations have been responsible for many of the world’s greatest discoveries, from penicillin to the Post-it note. Throughout history, our greatest thinkers have advanced scientific understanding and improved our world as a result of being in the right place, at the right time and with the right combination of knowledge and inspiration.

Many researchers, including myself, tell stories of how casual meetings with colleagues have led to some of their most fruitful and long-lasting collaborations. The conversations, learning and opportunity to engage outside of one’s own comfort zone can lead to creativity and innovation.

Of course, there is no magic formula for serendipity, which by definition is unexpected. Yet forward-thinking organizations like Google, Facebook and AT&T are well known for their attempts to create work environments conducive to networking and collaboration in the hopes of generating new ideas and innovation.

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