The Chaos Imperative: How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation, Effectiveness, and Success

Overview

People and organizations tend to approach chaos as if it were an unruly beast—something that needs to be reined in, or avoided at all costs. But what if there’s a benefit to chaos? What if it’s actually crucial for inspiring industry innovation?

In The Chaos Imperative organizational thinker and bestselling author Ori Brafman and management consultant Judah Pollack dramatically demonstrate how even the best and most efficient organizations—from Fortune 500 companies to today’s ...

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The Chaos Imperative: How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation, Effectiveness, and Success

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Overview

People and organizations tend to approach chaos as if it were an unruly beast—something that needs to be reined in, or avoided at all costs. But what if there’s a benefit to chaos? What if it’s actually crucial for inspiring industry innovation?

In The Chaos Imperative organizational thinker and bestselling author Ori Brafman and management consultant Judah Pollack dramatically demonstrate how even the best and most efficient organizations—from Fortune 500 companies to today’s US Army—can become more innovative by allowing a little unstructured space and “contained chaos” into their planning and decision-making.

Through their consulting work, they realized that while structure and hierarchy are essential both in large corporations and small groups, too much of either can stifle creativity.

Weaving together stories and case studies with insights from areas as far-reaching as neuroscience, medieval history, and video gaming, Brafman and Pollack reveal how creating pockets of chaos within organizations can inspire the creative leaps that lead to new growth.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“Thought-provoking insights. . . . A must read.”
Booklist [HC starred review]
Publishers Weekly
In this surprising tome, organizational expert Brafman (Sway), who has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. Army, argues that contrary to conventional wisdom, chaos is essential for generating new ideas. While noting that organizational structure and discipline have their place, the best ideas, he posits, come from what he calls “white space”—short, unstructured moments that allow the brain to ruminate without performance pressure. Using examples such as Albert Einstein—who is said to have derived many of his best ideas in coffeehouses and on hikes—and the Army, arguably the least likely group to accept anything unstructured, the author offers five rules of chaos. The rules are based on a training program Brafman developed with the Army over the past two years: avoid the seductive lure of data, because not everything can be determined by metrics; put a loose structure around the chaotic; make white space productive; embrace “unusual suspects,” those outside the inner circle, who approach the issues from a fresh perspective; and organize serendipity (set the stage for spontaneous interactions of different groups). This useful and practical book will be welcomed by managers looking for new ways to innovate. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“This useful and practical book will be welcomed by managers looking for new ways to innovate.” -Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
Pop psych meets pop business in Brafman's (co-author: Click: The Forces Behind How We Fully Engage with People, Work, and Everything We Do, 2011, etc.) latest outing in the land of counterintuition, written with the assistance of leadership expert Pollack. Business types live and breathe for data, analysis and endless planning. Yet, as Joseph Schumpeter observed, there's something irresistibly compelling about cleaning house, resetting priorities and otherwise changing course by means of what he called "creative destruction." Brafman doesn't quite counsel burning down the house, but he isn't shy of introducing a little bubonic plague into the equation, either. Drawing on the results of a three-year consultancy with Martin Dempsey, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Brafman urges that we consider the bright side of chaos and calamity: The Black Death may have brought about all manner of death and destruction, but "it was actually instrumental in bringing about Europe's ascent to greatness." Post–James Gleick, the word "chaos" has been applied and misapplied in all sorts of half-baked, Gladwell-ian ways, and Brafman plays it a little loose at times. Nonetheless, this book has value in encouraging a rethinking of how things get done, particularly in heavily institutionalized cultures. For instance, in the military, there's a manual for everything, including one on the proper way to change a tire on a tuck. But why read a manual when a YouTube video would do? Such useful ideas come from what the author calls "casual downtime," the thinking time that institutions too often don't budget for. And what situation wouldn't benefit from more thinking about it, as long as it's not perfectly unbroken? For some readers, there won't be much news here, but for others--particularly those down the chain from Dempsey--there's much good food for thought in Brafman's sometimes-brash assertions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781622312481
  • Publisher: HighBridge Company
  • Publication date: 8/13/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged 4.75 hours
  • Pages: 270
  • Sales rank: 1,468,998
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

ORI BRAFMAN is an entrepreneur and author of The Starfish and the Spider. He is a sought-after speaker who has presented before audiences at Microsoft, Amazon, and Stanford Business School. He lives in San Francisco.

JUDAH POLLACK is a regular speaker at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, as well TEDx conferences around the country. An expert in the field of leadership, Pollack has worked with Google, SAP, and Oracle, as well as with the Special Forces and the Army’s senior leadership. Most recently he developed a program to help returning soldiers reintegrate into non-combat military life from the experience of war.

DREW BIRDSEYE is the president of Birdseye Ventures. He’s been a voiceover artist for more than 14 years, working on everything from on-hold to audiobooks. He’s worked for brands such as Microsoft; TDA Ameritrade; Spalding; Royal Caribbean; Regent Seven Seas; Lifetime; and the United States Navy, Air Force, and Marines. He can be heard currently as the voice of the evening news on WGN Chicago and on various projects from Miami to Barcelona to London to India.

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