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Engineering Serendipity - NYTimes.com

Posted on by Brandon Klein

 “If you just think of serendipity as an interaction with an unintended outcome, you can orchestrate pleasant surprises,” says Scott Doorley, a creative director at Stanford University’s Institute of Design. He and his colleague Scott Witthoft have instituted simple measures like positioning couches near doorways and stocking rooms with multiple types of seating to encourage lingering conversations.

Dr. Waber goes further in his forthcoming book “People Analytics,” envisioning a sensor-strewn office that reconfigures itself each morning courtesy of algorithms that plug any nagging structural holes by reassigning seats. “We’re still in the very early stages of engineering serendipity,” he says. What comes next may make the data-driven Googleplex look touchy-feely by comparison.