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Here I show the fine line separating the mindsets and skillsets of Guerrilla Serendipity versus Engineered Serendipity.

Serendipity is a rally of independent events which have come together seemingly by chance to bring a surprisingly good or wonderful outcome. We should live in the mindset that serendipity is always with us, here and now. We can plan for serendipity and we can be prepared for serendipity when it comes our way.


Engineered Serendipity is the intentional creation of opportunities for people to meet and interact in unplanned ways. The goal is to spark new ideas, launch collaborations, build coalitions and create innovations.

The idea of engineered serendipity is based on the observation that chance encounters are a powerful source of creativity and innovation. When people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives come together, they spark new ideas and solutions that would not have been possible otherwise.

There is evidence to support this claim. For example, a study by the Harvard Business School found that scientists who attended the same conference were more likely to learn from each other and collaborate effectively when they had common interests. However, the study also found that scientists who were from the same field were less likely to cite each other's work. This suggests that there is a sweet spot for engineered serendipity, where people have enough in common to be able to connect and collaborate and create, but not as much in common that they become competitive.

There are numerous known ways to engineer serendipity. Some common methods include:

* Designing spaces that encourage random encounters. This involves creating open and inviting spaces with plenty of seating, or configuring furniture that encourages people to interact with each other.

* Organizing public events and social activities that bring people together from different backgrounds and disciplines. Such as conferences, workshops, social meet-ups, public rallies, or explicit brain storming sessions.

* Using technology to connect people who might not otherwise meet. This involve using social media, online forums, virtual meetings, or matchmaking services.

The key to engineered serendipity is to create opportunities for people to connect with each other in unexpected ways. Social diversity is a catalytic element. When people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives come together, they very often spark new ideas and create innovations.

Here are past examples of how engineered serendipity was used to achieve innovative and productive outcomes:

* Google's “20% time” policy encourages employees to spend 20% of their work time on projects that are not directly related to their job duties. This policy has led to the development of new products and services, including Gmail, Google Maps, and AdSense.

Google engineers were encouraged to take "walkabouts" around the company's campus. This gives them the chance to meet people they might not otherwise meet and to discuss new ideas.

* The XPrize is a competition that offers large rewards for creators solving difficult problems. The XPrize has helped to accelerate the development of new technologies, such as the SpaceShipOne suborbital spacecraft and the DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous vehicle race.

* The TED Conference is an annual pub;lic event that brings together speakers from diverse fields to share their ideas. TED Conferences have helped to spread new ideas and innovations around the world. This has led to many unexpected collaborations and innovations.

* The website “” allow people to find and join groups based on their interests. This facilitates connection of people who might not otherwise have met and to spark new ideas.

Engineered serendipity was well described by the work of John Hagel et al. from Delloite Touche (2010) - how small moves, smartly made can set big things in motion.

Christian Bush in his book The Serendipity Mindset made an effort to turn engineered serendipity into an “exact science.”

Engineered serendipity is a powerful tool that is used to achieve productive outcomes. By creating opportunities for people to associate with each other in unexpected ways, we spark novel ideas, collaborations, coalitions and innovations.


Guerrilla Serendipity is a term used to describe the unexpected and delightful encounters that happen when people at large go around at random and about in their open communities. The term "guerrilla" is used to accentuate the spontaneous, random, and no cost nature of these encounters.

The term "guerrilla" refers in this context the use of unconventional tactics to achieve a goal. In the framework of guerrilla serendipity, these tactics include the use of social media, crowdsourcing, and other forms of social communication to spread information and ideas.

Guerrilla serendipity refers also to the unexpected discovery of new knowledge or insights that challenge the status quo. These discoveries are unintended consequences of random daily life activities.

The point is that - where and when guerrilla is deployed there is no involvement of money.

Guerrilla=ABC. Guerrilla is Anything But Cash.

Guerrilla Serendipity has the potential to have an impact on the way we think about knowledge and acquisition of power. By challenging the traditional social gatekeepers, guerrilla serendipity helps to create a more open and democratic society.

“Guerrilla Serendipity” term was coined by Claudio Paolucci to describe the use of new technologies that spread alternative and non-institutionally “certified” interpretations of reality. It is a form of "semiological guerrilla warfare" that challenges the traditional relationship between knowledge and power.

Here are examples of practical benefits of guerrilla serendipity:

* The use of social media to spread information about protests and demonstrations.

* The use of crowdsourcing, (OPM) to fund and produce independent media enterprises. Examples are Medium and Substack as digital

* Building free social networks to share information and ideas.

* The use of free or almost free community resources such as computer labs, public libraries, volunteers, NGOs, public schools, disposed recyclable materials, public bulletin boards, civic clubs (low cost membership), Internet cafes, our cellphones, participative talk shows on TV and radio, writing letters to editors, book reviews, free advertising on public service radio and TV

Guerrilla serendipity may have its risks. It can be used to spread misinformation and disinformation. It can also be used to target individuals or groups with harassment or abuse.

However, the potential benefits of guerrilla serendipity outweigh the risks. By challenging the traditional relationship between knowledge and power, guerrilla serendipity helps to create a more open and democratic society.

Guerrilla serendipity is productive in the social life as well as in the liberal arts:

* Using free social media to connect with people who have different interests and perspectives. This can help us discover new information and ideas that you would not have otherwise found.

* Following hashtags for keywords (#), address (@) and acronyms on social media to stay up-to-date on trending topics. This tool helps finding new and interesting content that you might not have otherwise seen.

* Using free online tools such as chat-generative AI to produce random recommendations, helps finding new services, new music, movies, books, and other content that we enjoy.

* Experimenting with various ways of using digital technologies in the liberal arts.

· A musician who uses social media to connect with fans and other musicians, and who then collaborates with them on new contents.

· A writer who uses online tools to generate random prompts, and then writes stories based on those prompts.

· A photographer who experiments with different ways of using their camera, and who then produce unexpected, unusual, and beautiful photos.

All of the examples above help curious people to find new and unexpected ways to interact with the world around us.

Guerrilla serendipity is a powerful mind set and skills set for learning, for evoking feelings that in turn trigger creativity, and stimulate personal growth. By intentionally seizing opportunities of serendipity, we open ourselves to new experiences and possibilities.

Before I conclude here is a real life example of Guerrilla Serendipity. Steve Bowen, an ex-marine and advertising executive is credited with this common sense life skill:

“There’s got to be a golden pony somewhere in all this horse shit.”

The Take Away: Guerrilla Serendipity is creative, playful and low to no cost manifold resources. It helps finding new friends, useful instructive information, uncommon life experiences, recommendations, and connections that we would not have had otherwise.

If you are looking for new ways to learn and grow – assume the serendipity mindset and experiment with the guerrilla serendipity.


Mandy Lender publishes on Medium and on Substack.


Mandy Lender’s books are sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, eBay.


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