Serendipity behind the scenes: Capturing unexpected opportunities in Nova Scotia

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Peggy’s Cove, NS — a surprising place for a joint venture planning meeting

Sometimes serendipity happens, and the fateful congruence of chance and opportunity explains why I took a rare break from daily blogging yesterday.

The official purpose of the four days in Halifax was to attend the Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) national convention.

However, a few weeks before the convention, our leading sales representative had started an email dialogue with an organization regarding possible co-operation and joint venture initiatives. We agreed to take things to the next stage, and I sent the counterpart organization’s leader an email inviting further discussions, while observing I might need to work things within the schedule because of the Halifax conference.

He responded (to my surprise): “I live just outside Halifax,” and suggested a personal meeting.

The optimal time for this conversation, yesterday, occurred during the conference’s regular Saturday afternoon program break. I rented a car, and drove to the Peggy’s Cove area, where we discussed various alternatives and our respective business histories/experiences for about 90 minutes, before reaching a handshake agreement on a pilot project.

(I think it’s best not to disclose organizational details just yet — let’s get the pilot under-way and in evaluation before I broadcast them.)

Possibly these discussions could have been conducted over the phone or by email, but there is something to be said for one-on-one human interaction. All of the marketing techniques and technological efficiencies to build trust cannot replace the ability to look the other person in the eye and form an opinion.

In the case of this organization/project, there is no need to disrupt existing operations or systems; mess around with relationships and operating systems — we have the foundations of an off-the-shelf startup, which can run quite comfortably in parallel with the rest of the business.

The direction we take once the start-up evaluation concludes could involve some radical redesigning of core business operations, incremental changes in our systems and processes, perhaps a growth extension that will operate in parallel with our existing businesses, or simply the conclusion that the experiment doesn’t work and we should revert to our separate operations.

The biggest risk may be there is very little skin in the game, thus reducing commitment and making it easy to give up before achieving success — but this may be the initiative’s greatest strength. We don’t have to worry about burning budgets or relationships with the hope that the idea might work.

I’ll know soon enough. I couldn’t have planned the unique connection of timing and opportunity, but that is serendipity for you.

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