A wrecked ship is also part and parcel of business

May 21, 2018 TechoCon 2018

by Petr Remeš

Last week we took you to a place where chance discoveries change the world. The word serendipity also applies in the office environment as an accelerator of change and progress. And what about when your excellent plans come to nothing? Raise a flag to the word Zemblanity!

In the past week we acquainted you with the term serendipity, which characterises the world of innovation, fortunate and often unexpected accidents that move your business forward. However, the sun doesn’t shine every day.

Although the September TechoCon conference is primarily about technological advances, success and the routes to progress, you can’t avoid the occasional failure in business, or even in the fit-out of a new office. Sometimes things simply don’t go as expected, even though you have made every effort. For just such situation there is another (less well known) term: zemblanity.

The term “zemblanity” was coined by William Boyd and is the complete opposite of serendipity. In short it means “unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries“ or an “unpleasant surprise”. The word derives from the land Nova Zembla, a cold and inhospitable land with many features opposite to the lush Sri Lanka. On this island Willem Barents and his crew were stranded while searching for a new route to the east.

Imagine you are planning a new office for 100 colleagues. It will be a beautiful new open-plan office full of modern desks, chairs and relax zones. Meeting with the architect is followed by the selection of art for shared meeting rooms, carpets will be delivered next week… The project is drawing to a close so the long-awaited kick-off is 100% perfect.

And then it happens. A perspiring colleague utters the words “it’s terribly hot in here”. And you as the main project manager realise with horror that although the carpets will be laid and the pictures are almost up, no one has ordered the damn air-conditioning! William Boyd would have said tersely: “That’s zemblanity.” Because this can happen. A shipwreck and Nova Zembla are in sight. In short, you have landed there and now there’s no way back.

At the panel discussion on Thursday 13th September at TechoCon we will discuss experiences, practical examples when furnishing office space and also complete shambles that can have the term zemblanity applied to them. Come and share your experience with the TechoCon community.