KM Requires Luck

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with and talking to some fantastic law firm knowledge management experts. They work in a variety of firms, with a wide array of technology tools and organizational cultures. These most successful of all law firm knowledge managers stand head and shoulders above the rest. While I know they’ve worked hard, it’s indisputable that many of them have been lucky. Now before you criticize me for damning with faint praise, take a look at what Richard Wiseman describes as the attributes of lucky people:

My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

Translated into the world of KM, this suggests that successful knowledge managers are plugged into their organizations and notice changes, looking constantly for opportunities.  Their experience helps them trust their intuition – which is the great gift that experts have in abundance.  Their orientation towards opportunity is, by definition, positive and helps them focus on the good that can be achieved.  Finally, they understand the value in learning from each experience.  Prior failures and successes remind them that they can trust themselves to make some good out of even difficult results.

Those of us who do not feel so lucky should not despair.  According to Richard Wiseman, we can learn to be lucky by using the following techniques:

  • Listen to your hunches.  Don’t focus solely on the “rational side of the situation.”  Pay attention to how you feel about a decision.  Your “gut feelings act as an alarm bell – a reason to consider a decision carefully.”
  • Break out of your routine. “Unlucky people tend to be creatures of routine. They tend to take the same route to and from work and talk to the same types of people at parties.”  Wiseman contrasts them with lucky people who seek out variety, thereby increasing the likelihood of “chance opportunities.”
  • Accentuate the positive. “Lucky people tend to see the positive side of their ill fortune. They imagine how things could have been worse.” Take the example of one positive thinker who had fallen down a flight of stairs and broken his leg.   When Wiseman “asked him whether he still felt lucky and he cheerfully explained that he felt luckier than before. As he pointed out, he could have broken his neck.”

What will you do today to change your luck?

[Photo Credit:  Kelley Mari]

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