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Feeling lucky? Turns out, luck might be more of a practice than an accident

All too often, our processes are designed to eliminate the role of chance – but smart companies do the opposite.

There’s an old maxim that tells us, ’We make our own luck in life.’

There’s a grudging sense of Calvinist work ethic at play, I always sense, in this sentence. As though luck in actual fact has nothing to do with, well, luck. In fact, here in the West, luck is often considered an underserving, without merit, accident.

Whereas, elsewhere in the East, Luck is coveted and encouraged. Seen in this way, it seems you might at least make room for more luck in your life.

Luck pays a visit on the basis of being invited in, says Andy Nairn, London’s top dog brand planner in his first book, Go Luck Yourself.  And is something not to be dismissive of.

Nobody ever admits to its role in their work, Andy writes, even though it so often plays a part in myriad successes and failures. He argues that organisations should be more mindful of the hand they’ve been dealt – since only then, can they improve their chances.  

Specifically, he offers up “40 ways to stack the odds in your brand’s favour”, grouped around four broad themes:

·      Appreciate what you’ve got

·      Look out for opportunities everywhere

·      Turn misfortune into good fortune

·      Practise being lucky

The book features umpteen case studies and stories that allow us to understand the role and remit of luck as a viable strategy for brand and business growth.

Andy extracts lessons from all over, including the legendary happenstance of Quincy Jones’ output, when working with Michael Jackson on the best-selling album of all time, Thriller.

He cites the bad luck that inspired the creation of Mickey Mouse on the back of Walt Disney losing the rights to his first creation, Oswald The Rabbit.  

From there we visit the now infamous Texas A&M research from the US – made famous by Malcolm Gladwell - that highlighted the additive creative flair associated with diversity and difference. Being an outsider, an unlucky outlier, works in favour of creativity it would seem.

Ultimately, however, what resonated with me most was Andy’s last section: the idea that we need to practice being lucky.

At first, that seems like a contradiction in terms (a bit like planned spontaneity), but I can see his point that organisations need to make a conscious effort to foster serendipity in their culture. All too often, our processes are designed to eliminate the role of chance – but smart companies do the opposite. They encourage unusual cross-fertilisations, incentivise happy accidents and make room for surprise discoveries.

This is more than that cliché of failing forwards – although it includes that – rather it’s an invitation to explore and discover; to progress without a clear horizon in mind. And to avoid the dull hector, ‘We’ve always done it like this’. Dogma kills luck. And kills the attitude of ‘the lucky’ - those who sit comfortably (or uncomfortably) during those moments when – to paraphrase Quincy Jones – the Lord walks through the room.

Andy’s book is available to pre-order from Amazon.au.

Words by Carl Ratcliff, Director

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All too often, our processes are designed to eliminate the role of chance – but smart companies do the opposite.