The Chaos Imperative


Ori Brafman and Judah Pollack are tremendous story tellers. They have the ability to weave rather complex concepts into practical story lines that the reader can digest with ease. Brafman and Pollack are “inductive communicators.” They use stories as varied as the plague referred to as “The Black Death” that arrived in Europe in 1348 to a consulting engagement with the U.S. Armed Forces (General Martin Dempsey – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) as the vehicles to illustrate their thesis.


The bottom line of this book is:

“Organizations can become too structured. They can eliminate all the white space (where innovative, constructive, novel ideas emanate from). Unusual suspects are given no voice, and new ideas are stifled. The overhanging canopy of an organization’s structure can block out too much sunlight to allow new ideas to grow.” pp.28-29. AKA – “The Tyranny of structure.”

There are some fantastic quotes in this book like this one: “Information does not change behavior. If it did, none of us would smoke and we’d all floss.” (p.40).

“Doing the same thing day after day doesn’t help us sustain or build new neural pathways. Participating in activities that force us to improvise and think does.” (p.73).

“I have become convinced that we need white space in order to avoid becoming so task-focused that we lose our creativity.” (p.83).

“As we’ve seen time and again, serendipity depends on the flow of ideas and the intermingling of unlikely people. Organizational silos are the enemy of serendipity: it’s hard to find serendipity in a cubicle.” (p. 164).

“You don’t get much wisdom from your crowd if everyone in your crowd is the same.” (p.188).

Once again, another genuine contribution to the organizational behavioral literature. Ori Brafman has an MBA from Stanford Business School and the author of one of my favorites, SWAY. Judah Pollack is an expert in the leadership arena. She speaks routinely at TED conferences and UC Berkeley’s HAAS School of Business.

A wonderfully edible book. You’ll enjoy it.


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