Serendipity, discoverability and The Power of Pull

(homepage photo by @atibens on Flickr)

Those that have accompanied my writing in recent years know that I love the concept of serendipity. I write about it often, did a presentation about it and gave a talk on the subject:

As I shared in that talk, my interest on the topic is due not only to serendipitous moments that I’ve experienced but also because I believe it is an important topic for organizations. Serendipity is deeply tied to the concept of discoverability. Unlike search, where in a certain moment you know the type of resource, information or person you are looking for, discoverability – the quality of being discoverable – works to make sure that you can “stumble upon” things that might interest to you although you were not necessarily looking for them at that particular moment. And making things discoverable, through different navigations paths, metadata, tag clouds and other associations, stimulates serendipitous effects (or is it serendipity that stimulates discoverability? As I write this, I wonder…).

I also love books. There’s something about flipping the pages (yes, I still prefer the physical sort), discovering new knowledge, stimulating my brain cells and understanding the world through other people’s eyes that really delights me.

One such book was The Power of Pull by John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison as I had the opportunity of writing here before. And my favourite chapter was the one where serendipity was depicted as a key element that puts – not so much by luck but by design – interesting people and resources into our paths. And I say by design because, as the authors and myself believes, we can “throw” ourselves at the chance of attracting people, ideas and resources by shaping or enabling serendipitous moments.

That exact part of the book is now available as a free download. I invite you to download it here though, as the smart Deb Lavoy said on Twitter (by the way, my favourite serendipity machine) you should consider getting the book.


One thought on “Serendipity, discoverability and The Power of Pull

  1. Cara Ana,

    Ao que parece o Porto é um epicentro “serendipitoso”.

    Descobri-a, e à sua apresentação, graças ao site que, por sua vez, descobri graças ao guest post de Stephann Makri, que conheci aquando a minha investigação para a minha dissertação intitulada “Call to Adventure: Designing for online serendipity”. Não é realmente “serendipidade”, mas não deixa de ser curioso! 🙂

    Desde 2010 que tenho trabalho à volta do tema de serendipidade (mais intensamente no último ano, para a acima citada tese de mestrado), por isso deve compreender o meu espanto ao encontrar uma conterrânea a trabalhar no mesmo tema!

    Teria imenso em expandir a conversa sobre serendipidade, com a Ana, no futuro.
    Criei o site “” como suporte para a minha investigação, onde vou guardando pedacinhos de informação sobre o tema, para além do meu site pessoal:

    Neste meu site pode também encontrar a minha dissertação, no seguinte link:, se tiver curiosidade.

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