BrettSpiel is a blog about board game design, written by game designer Brett J. Gilbert.

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Quotables #002

Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.

Branch Rickey

There may be many maxims about design, but this one has the benefit of being both pithily short and highlighting an easily overlooked truth: that to achieve success in creative endeavours being smart, though necessary, is hardly sufficient.

Branch Rickey was an American baseball player and manager who, history records, following a somewhat mediocre playing career, was single-handedly responsible for redefining how Major League Baseball was managed in the States and is now regarded as something of a visionary of the sport. (Note that I am neither a sports fan, nor an American, so my knowledge and appreciation of the game and the cultural impact of famous baseballers is pretty much non-existant.)

The quote appears widely on the web, often in a sporting context and often in an even pithier form: ‘Luck is the residue of design’. The notion, of course, is that you can ‘make your own luck’ by being smart enough to engineer the possibility of success into both the things your create and your creative techniques.

Elsewhere I have found the same sentiment in other forms, such as ‘Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity’, which isn’t as pithy and is curiously attributed to Oprah Winfrey.

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