Order from chaos

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

I’ve just read Matthew May’s book, In Pursuit of Elegance. It’s an easy succinct read and contains some engaging ideas.

There’s a fascinating section looking at the work of Jackson Pollock. It’s an intricate story which I’m shortening a little crudely here:

When Pollock first came onto the scene, a lot of people dismissed his work as just random splashes of paint that anyone could do. Yet his paintings sold for fantastic amounts of money. May relates how, as a byproduct of an experimental art project, a scientist discovered that Pollock’s works were fractal – containing layers of symmetry that you might not immediately recognise.

Although Pollock was clear that there was a guiding principle to his work, it’s fractal nature wasn’t explicit, and may not have been even to the artist. Yet it appears that at some level this was recognised by people, albeit unconsciously. Even though on another level, the stuff looks like random splashes that you’d think anyone could emulate, it turns you can’t.

What looks like chaos can contain order, or be on the brink of order… and that last thing you need to do is “organise” it. An important lesson there for facilitators who are often tempted, or pressured, to add structures or processes to make meetings more safe and orderly.

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