Mistakes, Coincidence and Chance: Necessary Ingredients for Supported Employment Success.


Fertile soil, water and sunshine are all necessary to yield bountiful crops. So, too, are mistakes, coincidence and chance essential ingredients for successful job development and supported employment programs.

Paperwork must be done and meetings must happen to keep funds flowing in. They also serve to prepare the job development terrain. The greatest movement, however, results from the intuitive hunches, gut feelings and the mistakes we try to avoid.

Cary Griffin of Griffin Hammis, LLC, helped pioneer the discovery process for customized/supported employment. Known for his creative approaches, Cary advocates cultivating numerous opportunities for work trials and situational assessments. When the job seeker doesn’t know what kind of work they want to do, you can follow their interests and introduce them to new environments to discover what will happen. Situational assessments allow for trial and error, giving both the person seeking the job and the job developer the opportunity to learn by mistakes that have either positive or negative results.

We previously addressed the subject of the brain and creativity. Introducing new environments for the job seeker to experience stimulates neurodevelopment by challenging both you and the candidate to search for new options, seek solutions and find unlikely or unusual ideas for making a potential job become a successful job placement or business. Exposure to potential co-workers also provides additional information and feedback about a business or industry that may be pertinent in carving out a perfect fit for the job seeker.

When we speak of mistakes with amazing outcomes, a great example is the “sticky note” – yes, the yellow post-its that clutter your desk, refrigerator and calendar. This invention actually germinated from a 3M engineer’s mistake as he tried to develop permanent glue. His mistake changed how we live and work today.


Coincidence and accidents. They happen. Two colors accidentally spilled together can make the perfect color. Two people bump into each other on the street, and a new partnership can be born.

X-treme creativity enables us to look beyond accidents and engage the power of ingenuity. A creative job developer is willing to experience “not knowing” in order to discover what is possible. They make a decision and then act on the opportunity presented. Efforts may not yield immediate results, but will generally lead them on a path that will create a perfect job for someone of their case load. This is when they ask themselves, “What if this could be a breakthrough moment? What action should I take? If I could see beyond the impact of the moment and consider the possibilities this accident has presented, what would they be?”

Have you ever been out and about conducting business or taking care of personal errands and accidently bump into the very person who ultimately connects you to the perfect job for one of your job seekers? It often happens to those focused and passionate about job development.chance

Chance. Look at nature. Listen to someone’s conversation. You may stumble upon an idea from a field totally unrelated to yours. One of the best job development successes I had was wandering the aisles of Keebler Cookies in north Denver. I was attending a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon, was not acquainted with the others in attendance, and didn’t anticipate an opportunity to connect with anyone. As I walked through the rows and rows of cookies, though, I was soon joined by a gentleman who happened to be a city councilman. A few weeks later, he set up a meeting with the city manager during which the manager committed to employ nine people. Jobs in the areas of landscaping, office work, detailing police cars and working at the waste treatment plant all happened by chance.

In my recent webinar for the Supported Employment Leadership Network for Colorado, I noted that passion is an essential ingredient for job development. Passion and energy will fertilize your efforts and create supported employment success.

Take a chance. Embrace coincidence and mistakes. Fail forward. Dream big.