Are you obsessing over keeping order?
Why we should stop avoiding chaos; Powerpoint is making us stupid; an abundance of internet content, insects and pasta.
We fear chaos, yet we can’t be bothered by keeping order at all times.
We yearn for complete control, believing it to be the natural state of existence. The more control we have, the better. That's why we invest so much time in planning, documenting, and seeking clear information.
However, the natural state is one of chaos.
Not in the colloquial sense where we are unable to comprehend what is happening around us, but rather a coherent chaos.
Think of diverse trees growing in a forest without a precise order, children playing in a neighborhood playground without anyone dictating their actions, or bubbles rising and bursting on the surface of water before throwing in the pasta.
Chaos represents the natural order of things: events unfolding with some inherent logic, without a central figure directing every action.
It is a continuous and generative movement. Furthermore, the human race has evolved primarily due to the necessity of surviving in chaotic nature and undemocratic societies.
In fact, the current state of democracy serves as a great example of why chaos invariably prevails.
Despite its aim to establish a robust societal structure, violent and totalitarian governments that suppress a portion of the voting population are consistently elected worldwide. We have attempted to create a system that brings order to the functioning of societies and countries, involving millions of people. However, we have inadvertently created an even more chaotic situation. We have discovered shortcuts that undermine the structure and provide tools for managing society in a less democratic manner. Once again, things naturally tend to become chaotic.
The same applies to nearly every workplace, particularly larger ones where most days witness limited interaction among employees (e.g., factories, large corporations, multinationals, governmental bodies, etc.). Guidelines, rules, routines, and micromanaging managers strive to keep everyone moving in the same direction, ensuring that resources such as money, time, and effort are not wasted haphazardly. Much is said about synergy and coordination. If order were the natural condition, there would be little need for many manuals, trainings, and meetings. We would be able to coordinate in a simple and direct manner.
However, ego, ambition, diverse personalities, antipathies, laziness, conflicts, and changes of mind all contribute to chaos.
This does not mean that we should succumb to anarchy.
Instead, we must reconsider how to foster efficiency, creativity, and freedom without obsessing over the desire for control.
Managers must understand that they can set goals and explain the principles that must be upheld at work, but they cannot micromanage their workforce by dictating every task. Such an approach is tedious, demeaning, and unnatural.
It also implies that strategy does not entail creating highly-detailed programs. Instead, it involves agreeing on desired outcomes, general directions, and guiding principles, understanding that we will encounter the chaotic reality that necessitates adaptation, changes, and adjustments along the way.
If there is something we can learn from nature about living amidst chaos, it is this: animals, vegetation, and societies have all learned to evolve through encountering chaos. There is greater strength in adapting than in remaining static in a single direction.
A personal note: I am not giving the keys to ChatGPT. I do use a few GPT agents to improve my writing (I am not a native English-speaker).
If you liked what you read, be a friend and forward this e-mail now to a couple of friends/colleagues that might enjoy it as well. They will be grateful, I will be grateful, and you will feel good about it.
Thanks for reading Masters of Babel! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
🗝️ The secret stash
Resources to upgrade your professional experience.
Powerpoint is still one of the best tools to convey ideas. It might also make you stupid.
AI is not the reason why you’ll lose your job. Automation is, if you are working in one of these professions.
Being consistent is considered a key trait for managers and decision makers. This research explains why we should normalize changing minds.
Typed will help you integrate information from slides, docs and websites without getting lost among dozens of open tabs. Check it out here.
Ideas and stories for big thinkers.
The internet has being flooded with content for decades. Some of it is now old, yet much more valuable than most of what Google presents you. Read Something Wonderful collects evergreen internet articles.
The world has been ruled by two species: humans and insects. We are at the same time the best allies and enemies of each other. We will either flourish together or extinct together.