Alex Butler is thinking about the magic of serendipity and wants to see more of it.
Funny old world isn’t it? In my day job, I give advice on digital technology and marketing, and it’s true to say that I’m geekily interested in how it all works and what’s over the horizon, and how the world will change as a result. In my past career, I was part of that huge nineties boom in consumerism and as a marketer, I worked for huge companies that created products for their customers because that made them money, not necessarily because it was something that their customers genuinely needed. We marketers were engineers of a sort. We created experiences and illusions. People who bought our products were ‘target audiences’, a ‘demographic’. We thought we knew you.
These days, I’m far more interested in what happens ‘in between’ free thinking individuals when we organise ourselves, rather than being part of ‘an organisation’, the impact that’s having on the way we think about ‘work’, and on the way we trade with each other. I’m talking about relative strangers, bound only by the fact that they work independently, helping each other out by giving advice, a helping hand, support when things get tough, a practical tip.
These encounters are random and magic, and they happen because we’ve learned to trust each other. I call them ‘moments of serendipity’, and I observe them almost every day when our freelance groups come together for company, support and to get some work done. These aren’t moments that we’ve engineered. They are simple, human interactions, which result in new friendships, new business and occasionally something truly extraordinary in its own right.
I often wonder whether I should be content to sit and watch, just allowing myself a moment of pleasure that I was there when it happened. But equally, I wonder whether there is anything more than I can do to power those moments, help make them happen. I want to be part of it.
Am I falling back into my bad old marketing ways?
It must be very tempting as a marketer to want to manipulate these connections, because the bond that results is incredibly powerful, as it is on trust and transparency. You’d really want some of that.
But that would be missing the point. These moments of serendipity are random, unplanned and magic. Any attempt to engineer them and you’d end up with egg on your face because the whole point is that it’s just about those individuals, at that moment, doing their thing, in their way.
I do think that you can put up the canvas, build the space and create the ambiance that makes it more likely that the magic happens though. And that’s just what we are doing here at KindredHQ.
I’m happy enough these days to sit back and watch this incredible generosity economy grow, with just a tiny bit of pride.