Chaos Theory

I’m a big fan of Chaos Theory and it is a key philosophy that shapes how I view the world. Simply it is “Just because something is deterministic doesn’t mean its predictable.”

Chaos Theory also has a concept called Fractals which is where actions can appear to form patterns and then suggest behaviours. This is also know as spontaneous order.

Computer Systems are a great example of this. I can produce a solution that works perfectly in one environment but fails in another. Any small deviation in conditions can have a drastic difference in results.

With this fundamental understanding of chaos I am then able to stop looking at IT solutions for problems as a matter of process and control, which in my experience is very costly and still fails, but with the goal of promoting spontaneous order.

Spontaneous order in my experience results in people using systems unpredictably to meet their needs and ignoring things that aren’t necessary and harm productivity. In some cases this can mean ignoring the system entirely if the controls are too strict and the process is too much hassle.

Reducing controls and allowing people to create spontaneous order increases productivity, buy in to the new solution and greater use of the system overall that the business has invested in. All be it in a way the business didn’t intend.

SharePoint is a great example of seeing the difference between control and spontaneous order in action. When IT provides a solution that people must follow there is a great cost in time and effort to get people to buy in to that solution. But give them a sandbox to play in and they come up with fantastic ways of making their jobs easier with much less cost. We can then add to that in an evolutionary process to expand on what works best for each team individually.

Regardless of what the requirements are if people are getting their work done faster and better then that is mission accomplished.

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