HANDLING THE UNEXPECTED

   In the apparently predictable sequence:
        abcabcabcabcdabcabc..
appears the wild variable "d." In information theory, the "surprise," or "unexpectedness" of "d'"s appearance is called information. In this theory, the expected and routine convey little information.

   There are 2 ways to handle this unexpected information:

   (1) assume there has been a mistake, be "reasonable" and ignore it. Oxford physicist Frederick Smith did this when he found that photographic plates kept near a cathode ray tube were apt to fog. He merely told his assistant to move them to another place and left the discovery of X-rays to Rontgen.

   (2) Check it carefully, and see what it correlates with. This is what Fleming did, when he noted the effect of a mold growing on a streptococcus culture. He followed it up and discovered penicillin. He could have said: "What a mess! Throw it out!" Happily, he didn't.

   The art of serendipity (a faculty for stumbling upon agreeable and valuable things) is the ability to follow up the unexpected. If one thinks he knows all about it, nothing new is learned. Open to the unforeseen, one gets new information. Serendipitous auditors tolerate and explore surprises. And thus find out things.

   As a group gets bigger, rules are added for predictability. Each group member wants to know what to expect. "Surprise" and "information" are squelched. Admin, busy with its anxious failsafe prior inspections, suppresses tech. Mayo reported one org with 79 staff and one auditor.

   Unlike admin, auditing thrives on unexpected information and it is the starting point for pc cognitions. An auditor's strength is his ability to look, see this oddity and get the pc to explore it, as Fleming did penicillium notatum.

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