The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Are You Lucky or Smart? Maximize Your Return On Luck.

    by Kristi Shoemaker / November 16, 2011

    Are great companies just luckier than the rest?  Luck is defined as events that to a large extent are outside of your control, unpredictable, and that can impact you significantly  (good or bad).  Morten T. Hansen author of the book Great by Choice, analyzed the history of luck events for a large number of companies. A key finding: the winners and average performers encountered essentially the same number of lucky and unlucky events. The upshot: it's not the luck you get that counts; it's what you do with it — your return on luck. Here are  highlights from his research.

    Read the complete story  "You Can Manage Luck. Here's How"

    Three ways you can get a high return on luck at work

    1. View life as a flow of luck events. Imagine swimming in a river in which lucky events — good and bad — will flow your way and hit you. It's neither good nor bad. It just is. When you start having this "luck flow" mindset, you can start managing those events to your advantage, but only then.

    2. Prepare for bad-luck events (they will come). Bad luck events will happen; you just don't know when and in what form. Your project derails because of someone else's error, a competitor unexpectedly blows you away with a better product, the new CEO downplays your product area, a medical condition derails your plans. These are "what" luck events, but there are also "who" luck events: you get a new boss from hell, you're thrown into a dysfunctional team, you have to endure an incompetent jerk at work.

    The best leaders in the study prepared for bad-luck events by building reserves (e.g., cash on the balance sheet) and running lean operations in good times. Likewise, we can all prepare for bad luck events at work by incorporating safety margins in what we do (take an earlier flight to that meeting; add two extra days to the next deadline), acquiring options (line up that backup supplier), and building a strong network of people at work who will help (say, by siding with you and not your bad boss).

    3. Spot good-luck events when they come. The best leaders in the study had an uncanny ability to spot good-luck events. My guess is that more good-luck events happen to us than we think, small and large. This includes "who" luck events, such as encountering a mentor, getting a new great boss, or meeting a life partner. The problem is that good-luck events often reveal themselves in ambiguous, trivial ways at first, which can make them hard to detect. And it's not enough just to spot a good-luck event; you also need to be prepared to alter your plans to act on it.

    You must prepare intensively, commit all the resources you can, and be maniacal about execution when the good-luck moments arrive.

    What are your tactics to get a high return on luck in the workplace?

    Enjoy this related article from EcSELL Institute's Resource Library "Hope Is Not A Sales Strategy"


    Morten T. Hansen is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and at INSEAD, France. He is the author of Collaboration and coauthor of Great by Choice (with Jim Collins). Follow Morten on twitter @GreatByChoice and at T. Hansen

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    Kristi Shoemaker

    Kristi Shoemaker

    Kristi is a marketing communications and public relations expert with over 30+ years of experience in a variety of industries. She was an integral part of EcSell's go-to-market strategy and execution from 2008 - 2012. Kristi enjoys taking a holistic approach by integrating all the key marketing disciplines to create synergies that generate maximum results. She is currently the president of KLS Consulting in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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