Random Collisions in the Workplace: The Role of Serendipity in Innovation

In my presentation to CHIFOO’s 2023 Speaker Series on Serendipity in October, 2023, I shine a spotlight on the global pandemic’s impact on working norms, the nature of work and the “new normal.” Organizations and their leadership are struggling to find a playbook for bringing their people back into the office. Why should we return? What advantages does collocated work bring? How much time should employees be “in the office?” What is the impact of a fully remote workforce on an organization’s innovation pipeline?

In this presentation I focus on the economic value of serendipity. I illustrate the value of bringing us back into the workplace to drive our organizations’ innovation cycles, often through the simplest of interactions: Random Collisions. Based on the 18 month Future of Work taskforce effort I co-led at athenahealth, I offer several models and frameworks that reinforce the need for human to human engagement in a real world setting.

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