I’ve been tussling with the issue of happenstance recently. Let me explain. Happenstance has become, for me, a word to describe the happy accidents that are a valuable and pleasurable part of making unexpected progress. Happenings that came from coincidence, rather than from planning. The random circumstances where things ‘just work out’. I think you know the things.
Happenstances are a problem, because they are useful, but they come from being inefficient. Many a workday breakthrough comes from a chance encounter by the coffee machine, or from an overheard then interrupted conversation. These aren’t, in themselves, a productive activity. You’d be worried about me if I spend the whole day hanging around by the coffee machine, waiting for a chance conversation. At least I hope you would!
These things are lost when someone works alone or away from the office, which is one of the reasons I have been looking at how social media can recreate these chance work encounters. They are also lost if we are 100% focussed on the to do list.
So, once you start down the path of creating randomness, where do you stop? Productivity seems to be about good planning, as any GTD practitioner knows. Neat lists and clear goals. Order. Predictability. Logic. These are the things of productivity. So, what are Chaos, Randomness, Irrationality? Why… They are the things of creativity.
In all of our systems and processes, we need to leave the space to be creative. Knowledge workers produce thoughts; in the olden days, so I have learned, this was called being creativite. And it is good.