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Ori Brafman and Judah Pollack on “The Five Rules of Chaos”

Chaos ImperativeIn The Chaos Imperative: How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation Effectiveness and Success, Ori Brafman and Judah Pollack suggest that there are five rules that “apply across groups and organizations, whether you’re trying to change a multimillion-member organization like the military, attempting to transform a start-up company, or hoping to make a difference in a school system.”

Here they are, with my comments indicated:

Rule 1: Avoid the Seductive Lure of Data and Measurements
Comments: With all due respect to the value of quants, data are a means rather than an ultimate objective. Also, it is imperative to create a context for data.

Rule 2: Remember, It’s Called Organized Chaos
Comment: Although results cannot be predicted, creating chaos must serve a specific purpose.

Rule 3: Make White Space Productive
Comments: In a word, leverage white space. The ROI need not be measured in terms of dollars or hours. It may be most appropriate to measure it in terms of increased understanding.

o Employ white space judiciously
o Consider how much is too much
o Move!
o Create a micro white space

Rule 4: Embrace Unusual Suspects
Comments: As Brafman and Pollack point out, “unusual suspects” are generally viewed as iconoclasts, outliers, mavericks, oddballs, etc. and many people call them “troublemakers.” In the culture of the most innovative companies, tolerating their eccentricities and idiosyncrasies are seen as a small price to pay for their contributions to breakthrough concepts.

o Is this person really unusual?
o Are you confusing unusual with crazy?
o Are you missing an unusual suspect who is already inside the organization?

Rule 5: Organize Serendipity
Comment: Long ago, a French Romantic poet (I think it was Baudelaire) was asked to explain how to write a poem. He paused to think about it, then responded, “Draw a birdcage and leave the door open. Then wait and wait and wait and wait. Finally, if you are very lucky, a bird will fly in. Then erase the cage.”

I also highly recommend Ori Brafman’s previously published books:

Click: The Magic of Instant Connections, with Rom Brafman
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, again with his brother Rom
The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, with Rod A. Beckstrom

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