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Get Lucky: Create Serendipity to Spur Innovation

#sxsw #serendipity

Call it chance, luck, or juju, serendipity is the act of unexpectedly finding something of value. It is the muse of innovation and a silent driver of business; consider how Alexander Fleming's accidental discovery of the antibiotic penicillin revolutionized medicine, reducing suffering across the entire world. From the world changing to the mundane task of finding relevant information on Google+ or Twitter, serendipity is the mysterious force that gives us the breaks that many of us seek.

But what is serendipity? How do you encourage it? Is there a downside to it? How does it apply to work, art or play? Can you design for serendipity? We say you can and should. Whether you’re building the next super social network, doing scientific research, or building a community, there are steps you can take and skills you can develop to help you recognize and act on it. It is more than just naturally being fortuitous; rather, it takes practice to get lucky.



Bill Johnston Head of Global Community Dell

In a sentence: Seasoned online community and social media executive with over 10 years experience working with large scale communities and developing successful web strategies.

More About Me:

I live in Sonoma, CA with my lovely wife, 5 year old daughter and infant son. They are all awesome.

Since April of 2010 I have worked for Dell as Head of Global Community, steering overall online community strategy for Dell, globally. In addition, I am responsible for the strategy of Dell IdeaStorm. I also lead Unconferences for Dell related to social media and community, and I also advise on many social media projects related to ROI and social presence.

Prior to Dell, I worked for Forum One Communications as the Chief Community Officer between 2007-2010. I wrote the Online Community Report blog and newsletter. I created and chaired the Online Community Research Network, and conduct research on topics like online community metrics, ROI, and marketing via social media. I planned and hosted conferences about online community, like the Online Community Unconference (East and West Coast).

I have worked for Autodesk, (grew it from 0 to 2mm), and I built (it is really ugly now) waaayyyy back in the day. I have had a blast along the way.

I also direct a professional networking group called the Online Community Roundtable in the Bay Area which meets quarterly, and always starts with cocktails.

Duleesha Kulasooriya Head of Research Deloitte Center for the Edge

Study the changing world. Get inspired. Talk to people. Contemplate navel. Work with others to come up with compelling models for a new world.

I lead research at Deloitte’s Center for the Edge – a Silicon Valley-based think tank exploring the edges of business and technology. Over the past few years we have explored how the world is changing in very dramatic ways as a result of ever evolving digital infrastructure and liberalizing public policy, and its implications to us as individuals and institutions.

I led the team to design and develop the Shift Index, a new set of metrics to supplement current economic indicators in assessing the rate of change in the world around us, and have also led research on the use of Social Software to drive business performance, pathways to moving from static to dynamic performance ecosystems, and rethinking the role of firm and individuals in the form of institutional innovation.

I was born and grew up in Sri Lanka and now live in San Francisco with my Singaporean wife, exuberant two year-old and two cats.

Jennifer Okimoto Assoc Partner IBM

I focus on helping people and organizations introduce social computing into the workplace. At IBM we call this Social Business. It means understanding the changing nature of work...and how better connecting, collaborating, knowledge sharing and learning will enhance individual, team and organizational performance. It includes the things that a typical "knowledge worker" does as a part of his or her job, but which might require new skills and competencies depending on whether the worker is a digital immigrant or digital native. It also typically includes new behaviors, patterns and interactions with and around work processes and systems.

Jim Storer Co-Founder The Community Roundtable

Jim (@jimstorer) is a Co-Founder and Principal at The Community Roundtable. He is an experienced community builder and social media strategist. Over the last ten years he’s built and managed communities and consulted with both start-ups and large enterprises on how to effectively build lasting value with community and social media solutions.

As a social media/community strategist he’s advised a wide range of clients including Aetna, WebEx, Deloitte, EDR, iRise, Amway, Babson College and others. He was an active contributor and editor on two books on the impact of community and social media on traditional business and political practices:

- We Are Smarter Than Me: A collaboration of Wharton, MIT and thousands of business innovators, worldwide. Drawing on their collective “in the trenches” experience, the community (and subsequent book) revealed what does and does not work when you bring social networks and communities into your decision-making and business processes.

- Barack Inc.: This book spells out the lessons of the Obama presidential campaign and goes on to illustrate them, citing companies that have used similar techniques to succeed.

Early in his career Jim managed very large communities (100k+) and very small peer networks (150+) that served as great foundation for his consulting and strategy engagements. He blogs occasionally on community, social media, food and craft beer on the sites below.

Rawn Shah @rawn IBM

"What? Did you grow up in the jungles of Borneo or something?"

The other stuff:

I focus particularly on collaboration and social computing methodologies within organizations and on the Web. I am a Social Business Strategist in IBM Collaboration Solutions with primary responsibilities to devise strategy for social interactions for business processes, determine business value of collaboration technologies, and consider governance and ethics in social business. I have written seven books, his latest being "Social Networking for Business: Choosing the Right Tools and Resources to Fit Your Needs" (Wharton School Publishing/Pearson, 2010)

I also write the Connected Business blog on Forbes:

I used to be a freelance columnist and editor for technical journals such as JavaWorld, LinuxWorld, Windows NT World Japan, IBM developerWorks Web Services zone.

Find me at

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