Monday, March 26, 2012

Should We Embrace Chaos or Fight For Certainty?

Peter Drucker had a profound way of looking at life and its encompassing complexities. He knew that business, government, societal structures, etc. were all intertwined to form a complex system. None of the elements exists independent of the others. Therefore, you cannot effectively provide solutions for one element without addressing them all. He uses weather patterns and quantum physics to demonstrate his point. 

“The fastest growing field of modern mathematics is the theory of complexity. It shows, with rigorous mathematical proof, that complex systems do not allow prediction; they are controlled by factors that are not statistically significant. This has become known as the ‘butterfly effect’: a whimsical but mathematically rigorous (and experimentally proven) theorem shows that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rain forest can and sometimes does control the weather in Chicago a few weeks or months later. In complex systems, the climate is predictable and has high stability; the ‘weather’ is not predictable and is totally unstable. And no complex system can exclude anything as ‘external.’ In respect to the weather, that is, in respect to short-term phenomena, there is no system. There is only chaos. 

Economics and economic policy deal with short-term phenomena. They deal with recessions and changes in prices. Contemporary economics and economic policy assume that the system, the long term, is made by short-term policies—for example, changes in interest rates, government spending, tax rates and so on. For a complex system this is simply not true, as modern mathematics has now proven.” — Peter F. Drucker

In your life the butterfly effect applies. What happens at work or with family or friends will impact you in your work or love relationships. Some actions or conversations may seem inconsequential, however, one event or conversation can change your perspective forever. Yet, we are trained to seek the comfort of stability in a world that has so many moving parts that it becomes difficult to know what really influenced you first.

I ask you to consider that short-term solutions in a complex, chaotic world will turn you into a pinball. With no clear direction or path to follow, you will make sporadic and random decisions. As a result, Life’s externalities gain control over you before you can prepare yourself.

Life’s complexities require long-term solutions and patience. Whether you are leading an organization, department, family or your own life, think of yourself as a pilot flying a plane. You know your destination. At the same time, you know there is a strong possibility that you will experience turbulence. As a pilot, know yourself. If you do not possess the skills and courage to fly in a storm, you should neither go into it, nor create one.

The most important aspect for every pilot is that you have to know where you are going. Would you get on a plane in California if the pilot said ‘I am not sure exactly where we are flying to. I am thinking about flying towards NY?’ Think of your business, division or life as an airplane and you are inviting people to join you on your journey. What are you inviting people to? Is there something to which you are committed? Or are you just thinking about going towards something?  

What do you think? I would love to hear what you think. Or if you want to write me on a specific topic, connect through my blog

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