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Reading List: The Chaos Imperative

How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation, Effectiveness, and Success

Margaret Jaworski

Despite its intriguing title, the premise of this book by organizational expert Ori Brafman isn’t all that revolutionary or disruptive. In essence, Brafman wants to bring daydreaming and contemplation—what he calls white space—back into our daily lives and into organizational thinking. “The bottom line is that our brains have an amazing ability to solve problems—once we’re not focused on a specific task,” he writes. To reach this creative and innovative state, we need to “interrupt our logical problem solving.” In other words, taking time to sit, ponder and smell the roses creates that breathing (white) space we need to feed our imagination. Brafman, the best-selling co-author of Sway, supports his thesis with vivid historical anecdotes and scientific evidence as well as his extensive experience working with Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. Army (an organization not usually associated with the pursuit of chaos of any kind). It was while consulting with the Army over the past two years that Brafman distilled his five rules of chaos:

1) Avoid the seductive lure of data, because numbers don’t always tell the story;

2) Remember it’s called organized chaos, which means it’s important to maintain stability around the chaos;

3) Make white space productive by using it judiciously and reasonably;

4) Embrace unusual suspects and invite these outsiders—from within and without your company—to bring unique viewpoints to the discussion;

5) Organize serendipity by creating conditions that encourage spontaneous interactions.

Brafman’s engaging style and infectious belief in controlled chaos as a creative catalyst in The Chaos Imperative will win over and motivate anyone searching for ways to nurture innovation.

By Ori Brafman and Judah Pollack

August

Crown Business; $24

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