A pleasant surprise is more pleasant, and more surprising, than you think

201603-pexels-surpriseI published an article on LinkedIn yesterday titled “A pleasant surprise is more pleasant, and more surprising, than you think”. It’s an extension of my previous post here on STEM to Business about how Tesla uses surprise to earn free advertising.

The more I’ve thought about this, the more I realize how important the element of pleasant surprise is to those of us with technical backgrounds. It’s surprising when we know how the business runs. It’s surprising when we know what attracts investors to our business. It’s surprising when we know all the drivers that guide management’s decision-making.

It’s super important that we know that stuff. It unlocks the opportunity for career advancement. It helps us change career paths when we want to. It helps us launch our own businesses if we choose to.

Science and technology is complex. It’s specialized. It takes a lot of effort to master. Developing technical acumen doesn’t preclude us from also developing business acumen. In fact, they’re complementary.

So many business challenges today are ripe for picking with the scientific method. Too little time is spent building and testing hypotheses. Because the market isn’t a laboratory, it’s easy to assume we can’t experiment. But we can.

Our conclusions may be less rigorous. Our approach may be more difficult to duplicate. But we have the tools that can help us study the environments in which businesses succeed and fail. And we won’t just study. We’ll learn, grow, and optimize our approach going forward.

The pleasant surprise is one piece to this puzzle. You don’t even have to think about it on the scale of the business. Think about it just for yourself. What can you do tomorrow that would pleasantly surprise a stakeholder?

Don’t think too big here. It gets overwhelming. Think about something small. One observation you wouldn’t otherwise make. One question you wouldn’t otherwise ask. One suggestion you wouldn’t otherwise share.

Build from there. Even if the only person you surprise is yourself, it’s going to be worth the effort.

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