Creativity And Chaos

Chaos and creativityAccording to an anonymous quote I read recently “Chaos is not merely a mindless jiggling, it’s a subtle form of order”. Chaos theory is closely linked to creativity so I will provide a brief introduction. In reality there is no chaos, just different levels of order!

There are some fundamental concepts which I first need to point out:

  • The key for us to perceive or observe order is perspective
  • There can be order in apparent randomness
  • It only takes a very small change to move from a chaotic system into an ordered one and vice versa. Such events have been labelled as a ‘strange attractor’.

Imagine you are inside a system which appears chaotic, for instance an atom. You will observe electrons whizzing around your head like insects in a random fashion. Step up a level and you will notice that everything appears more ordered. If you step up to the molecular, you should notice that things will appear more ordered still.

In science lessons at school we have all observed Brownian motion. Here molecules apparently move in a random fashion when heated. Later we discovered that they conformed to a mathematical formula after our teachers conducted a random walk experiment.

It seems that if we can attain a high enough vantage point then we can indeed ‘separate the wood from the trees’. Slip low down and once again we become lost in chaos.

How can we make use of this knowledge within our organisations and businesses? Well layers of hierarchy do remove those at the top from the apparent chaos. At each level those within the organisation must learn to recognise the patterns of the adjacent level.

Insert too many layers and you cannot see what is happening, and if we insert too few will result in brains frazzled by complexity. For an organisation the implications are profound. To improve the performance of an organisation we must do a little pruning. We must remove some of the layers that build up over time that merely act as sticking plasters.

Too many attempts to interpret or understand is a little like Chinese Whispers, and then to make sure we have it right we begin writing everything down as procedures and red tape takes over. We then restore order, but we may lose creativity forever.

We must learn to walk that fine line between complexity and order that allows us to both implement a strategy and make use of chaos at the same time.

This is the key principle of the creative organisation.

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Coffee With Derek on IMAN FM 02/03/2017

My weekly radio show Coffee With Derek broadcast on March 2nd 2016 on Iman FM. Business Creativity and Innovation, a little music from Dire Straits plus an interview with Caroline Palmer from Raising The Baa – Leadership and Management training using Sheep.

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Creativity: Make Every Mistake Count

Creativity involves learning from mistakes

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery,” James Joyce.

Your mistakes probably will not bring the internet to a grinding halt or shut down the banking network for a few hours but you never know! Whatever happens it is in your own (and maybe your company’s) interests to own up and make the best of the situation.

Here are just a few ways that you can recover and learn from the situation. After all creativity is based upon a whole host of learning events.

Own up and own the mistake. Whatever the reason for things not going according to plan just own up. Don’t blame the people who let you down or the unfortunate circumstances that unfolded. Hold your hands up, realise what has happened and what can be learned and take action (or plan if appropriate).

Fix things if you can and tell someone. Don’t fix things and keep quiet. Mistakes often have potentially serious knock on effects which you may not know about. If problems are visible to everyone then more people can be on the look out or be involved in providing solutions.

Address the root cause. If you systematically reflect on mistakes, you will realize there are patterns in your performance that contribute to these errors. Use some creative techniques to do this if you can, it will stop you trotting out all of the old solutions that have not worked in the

Share what you learned. Not only will you now have some extra knowledge that will stop you making an idiot of yourself in the future but you will be able to stop others doing the same. Your negative moments will be turned around and be seen as positive. Just trying not to have too many mistakes!!

Experiments should be treated in much the same way as mistakes, if you play and have some unexpected results then try to share them.

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