When Serendipity, Experience, & Knowledge Converge

As I wrap up this series of posts on ways in which you can explore innovation opportunities for your business, I wanted to share a story to address a question I’ve gotten frequently regarding my business’ name,  “Why Lumen Strategies?” Believe it or not the two are very related!

I have a passion for photography, and dream of someday after lots of practice and dedication to the art that I will be taking artistic works of photographic art that I can share with others.  About the same time as I was formulating my business model and plans for starting my own company, I was taking a course on black and white photography when the instructor asked me if I had any photographer “heroes.”  I did not hesitate to answer that there were many, but Ansel Adams stood head and shoulders above as one of my all time most admired.

He paused a moment, then he proceeded to share with me a story I had heard before but had not thought about in some time.  The story was about the making of  Moon Over Hernandez, (a very famous Ansel Adams photo).  In Ansel Adams’ own words, the taking of the photograph involved a combination of “serendipity and immediate technical recall.” Adams had driven by this particular venue many times, observed it thoughtfully in different seasons, under differing light conditions.  But this day, the luck involved driving by this scene at a time in which the light, the moon, the clouds, and the elements of the landscape that were reflecting the light created a unique opportunity for a beautiful photo.

This fleeting moment could have been lost forever for all of us.  However, through the combination of this “luck” in timing, experience and technical recall Ansel Adams captured the scene beautifully and famously.   He knew that he had to act quickly before the sun dropped further and the light changed, forever obliterating the scene as it was before him.  In his haste to set up his not so portable camera apparatus to capture the shot from atop of his vehicle, Adams realized he did not have his light meter readily available.  There was no time to search for it, he had to rely on his experience and technical recall if he were to capture this opportunity.  He had to estimate the luminosity of the moon without the aide of a light meter.  Experience allowed him to calculate quickly without a meter how many lumens of light the moon would give off and then derive the settings on his camera.

Unlike a myth of digital photography today where everyone carries a camera in their back pocket, beautiful photos of the quality captured by Ansel Adams are not born from randomly taking hundreds of pictures in the hopes of accidentally capturing something of value.  Ansel Adams had planned and imagined the potential of the very location many times before.  He had studied the composition, noting nuances in light at different times of day and year.

The unique opportunity before him was met with his experience and dedication to continuously learning to improve his art.  A beautiful photograph was captured for eternity.  I realized as the instructor closed the story, that this was what I wanted to deliver in a different context with my business.  I wanted to bring my years of experience in early stage and disruptive markets to clients in order to help them capitalize on opportunity.  At that moment I decided to name the company Lumen Strategies.  I also had the inspiration for my logo which incorporates an abstraction of the moon as part of my brand as a symbol of this juxtaposition of experience and talent channeled to take advantage of opportunity.

During this series of posts over the last two months, I have shared ideas about how you might integrate exploration of opportunities for innovation into your business as something you systemically consider as a leadership team on a regular cadence.  Continuous innovation is an imperative for businesses of all sizes today.  I hope that you can utilize some of the idea starters in these posts with your teams to inspire innovations of your own.  Should you ever decide a more structured and facilitated engagement would be of value, I hope you will consider Lumen Strategies.  We have done engagements spanning a few months or workshops spanning a few hours to 2-3 days with leadership teams to delve into their opportunities, bringing experience as a backdrop to provide value in helping you achieve your goals and capture new opportunities.  Contact us for more information if you are feeling inspired to explore innovation opportunities!

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