Delivered 2016-11-03 at APIStrat Boston 2016, Boston, MA



Prepared Talk








First of all, thank you for staying. I know every minute I talk now I’m into drinks time, or whatever, commute time for some of you. So, let’s see how we can do. Yeah, so "Unleash the Chaos." I love looking at, sort of, varying things. I remember when I first tested this idea out with some people. The first reaction I got for this title, "Well, that doesn’t sound very helpful." But hopefully this will make some sense as we go on. First of all, we’re right outside, we’re in such a historic location. 300 years ago, this building was created, this building was built, and 250 years ago it housed John Hancock’s counting house. John Hancock from The Declaration of Independence. He ran his counting house here, and if you just go right outside and towards the wall you might see it. This drawing of the Longworth, and you can see why it’s called Longworth right? Because it was very long, it actually stretched over a quarter of a mile into the harbor. So deep water ships, clipper ships could actually just dock right here.

This drawing was made by Paul Revere, right? This is in the Smithsonian. This is Paul Revere’s land drawing of Longworth in Boston. So to be here and to be able to do this, this kind of time travel is really incredible to me. Those long ships, by the way, would ply… This is an example, I just got back from Australia, Sydney and several other locations. This is the tip of those long ships would have made if they were going from England down to Australia. Used to take them about 14 weeks to make it to Sydney, Australia on these ships. One way, 14 weeks and actually it could vary between two months and three months, sometimes up to four months if you got bad weather.

So, think about getting on this ship. You weren’t really sure how long it would take and you weren’t really sure what you’d find when you got there. What if I got a letter from a previous ship to take a job in Sydney? By the time I get on the ship and go back down there months have passed, that company may not even be in existence anymore, right? Things were very, very different, the speed and pace of time… This was the 1800s Clipper ship.

By the way, this was my route last week. 14 hours and I was complaining. 14 hours, not 14 weeks but 14 hours. And the beauty of this trip is I left at 10 a.m. on Saturday and landed at 6 a.m. on Saturday. So I truly was time traveling, right?

So, I read a lot of books when I’m on a plane and one of those books… You can see a couple of books here that will affect us today, Ori Brafman’s "The Chaos Imperative" and James Gleick’s book "The Chaos from 1980s" and we’ll talk about why that’s important. 1980s, 1986 is when that book came out and in that year I moved and took the very first job in my job history. It actually had computers in the job description. I had been working for several years in computers on my own as a hobbyist, right? But now I actually have a real job where a computer is on my desk and this might be a [inaudible 00:03:50] PCAT that was on the desk. This is exactly what it looked like and I pretty much understood what was going on. But there are lots of things that I had to learn and it was a pretty stressful time. I moved my family from Lansing down to Kentucky. I thought it was just a temporary move. I still live in the exact same address that I moved to, now 30 years later, and love every minute of it.

I had to learn a lot of things. I had to learn to work in an office space and take on a lot of things. And things seemed pretty strange to me, pretty chaotic to me. It was hard to predict and to understand what was going on and get things right. One of the things I had to learn is we were doing multimillion dollar budgeting using this new thing called spreadsheets. And I was the computer geek, and I understood this, and I built all these spreadsheets, and we made them all work together. And my accounting supervisor would do the same work the old fashioned way. He’d cramp out the numbers you know, and write them on the pads, and he’d come up with different numbers than I would.

We would start from seemingly the same place but I would end up in an entirely… I would be off by hundreds of thousands of dollars. And he would say, "Mike, I don’t understand this computer thing, I don’t think we can trust them." What I had forgotten is, I didn’t really understand about how rounding worked in these early spreadsheets, right? I was typing things in the exact, same numbers as my accounting supervisor, but rounding errors would add up over time sheet, after sheet, after sheet, and I would end up away off somewhere. It was really unpredictable until I sorta learning how to do things.

And this is, as I said, what I do when I’m really having trouble with a lot of things is I read, and I read a lot. These are all photos of bookshelves stashed somewhere in my home and these are the books, the actual physical books I still have and I’ve gotten rid of hundreds and hundreds of them. But they were my way of coping, they were my way of dealing with this sort of chaos, like what can I find? And one of the books taught me about this man, Edward Lorenz who died in 2008. Mathematician, meteorologist, and MIT graduate, and a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for quite a long time until he retired. He retired in '87, a year after I moved down from Kentucky.

He’s called the pioneer of this thing called chaos theory, and the reason he’s called that is because of this graph that he published in 1963. And it shows several runs, he was trying to work on prediction of weather, and it shows several runs of him working on this algorithm. And it starts out… These two lines are very close together, but then they start to diverge a little bit and then they go wildly apart. The experiences are different every single time as he creates more time it becomes less predictable. And it turns out that he summed it up like this, two states different by imperceptible amounts may eventually evolve into two considerably different states, this divergent point of view. We’re really, really, close when we start, but man, something goes terribly wrong.

Now that graph really changed the way people thought a lot about mathematics, about computing, and about systems in general. But it’s this graph that he created that is actually the more famous one. This graph is graphing what he called a strange attractor. It’s actually graphing the appearance and disappearance of this sort of weird variable that he thought was causing these divergent variations. You’ll note there’s a certain shape to this, right? This later becomes known as Lorenz’s attractor. And he, through a series of various talks, this becomes known as the butterfly effect, right? You know the butterfly effect, it’s got a great story, like a butterfly flaps its wings in highland and we tornado in the Midwest, or something like that. It really is called that because of it’s shape. Originally he actually said pigeon, but he later changed it to butterfly because it was much more poetic.

So where did I learn about this? I learned about this in a book I read. And this goes back to James Gleick that I mentioned earlier. This is the original cover for the book, "Chaos." When he explained this new science of chaos theory. It’s chaos theory, this notion that things change just a little bit at the beginning and then you get wildly different results. And it turns out chaos theory has a relatively easy explanation. Small difference in initial conditions yield to wildly divergent outcomes in dynamical systems. And it’s in that dynamical systems thing that’s really important. There’s certain kinds of systems you get this variation. In certain kinds of systems it turns out it’s rather unexpected and unpredictable, like when I was trying to figure out how spreadsheets work and I was getting these wildly divergent numbers, because I kind of didn’t understand how they worked.

But more to the point, this is the way Lorenz talked about it, and I love this idea. "When the present determines the future, but the approximate present, what we understand about where we start, is not approximately determining the future." In other words, when we diverge just a little bit, all bets are off. And that’s in this notion of dynamical systems, these systems where there’s lots of activity, there are lots of variation. So what are good examples? Weather. Lorenz was working on this notion of trying to predict weather. We can’t predict weather at any decent distance because it’s a very dynamical system, there are lots of variables involved.

Traffic is another great, dynamical system. That’s why we can’t really predict what traffic’s gonna be like tomorrow. We have a general sense, but we can’t get very, very close. And there is a great example of dynamical systems that I had talked about at APIstrat a couple of years ago, and this is John Conway’s, "Game of Life." There are a series of simple initial conditions that create, this is a mathematical model, that create these really unexpected and amazing little things. These are actually called shooters in this particular case. But of course, the most amazing dynamical system of all is people, right?

People are incredibly hard to predict, and hard to understand in large groups, especially. And it turns out in an organization where you’re using a lot of IT, where we think we understand math, where we’re really concerned about where machines talk to each other, and how those machines work, and how those machines can be just like one another rack, after rack, after rack, we keep coming up with all sorts of problems. We have difficulty building large systems. And the reason for that is almost always people.

People are part of the system we build. People are not outside the system, they’re actually part of it. And this idea that people are incredibly important in any system that you design in our field, whether it’s in computing, or bridges, or buildings, or anything else is actually a central theme in a book that I and several of my colleagues at the API Academy wrote this year. One of our coauthors, Irakli Nadareishvili is here in the room with us. And it turns out, as we started to map out the way organizations worked, we discovered that everyone was focusing in someway on people. So this Spotify’s idea of how they arrange teams for products and lots of other things. There’s a great article called, "How They Scale Spotify."

This is an example of Etsy. Etsy does thousands, they said last year 10,000 releases to production in a very dynamic system. In order to do that they spent all sorts of time and money to create this release and deployment system in order to create some kind of predictability in this dynamical system. Netflix, in order to deal with its dynamical system, it’s highly complex system, spends tens of thousands of hours creating what they call the Simian Army. It’s actually code meant to break the rest of the system in order to find weaknesses, because they can’t predict where they are, they can only discover them along the way and discover [inaudible 00:12:08]. So, they’re constantly rewriting code to explore this dynamical system.

So, when we were working and talking to all these companies we started to map out things that affect micro-service systems in any large dynamical system. And the individual micro service, the platform and system in which they run, the tools and processes used to create them, the organization that owns them, and culture inside that organization all are part of this dynamical system. And lo and behold, only two of these five are technical. The rest of them involve people.

And it turns out time and time again, as we’re trying to help people understand how to create more resilient systems, we have to tell them, "You know, people." We’re actually doing a lot of work in things like culture. All of these organizations that we’ve talked to in one form or another, Capital One is one of them, all spend a good deal of time on people as part of their system, not as some effect on it but actually as part of it. What they tell you in a lot of ways is what they’re building, what they’re aiming for, what they’re trying to do is not to build a well oiled machine that’s just chugging along. It’s not actually what they’re trying to do. In fact what they’re trying to do is create a place that looks like ants, that there are lots of people crawling around, lots of people doing things in unexpected ways.

When you first look at it, it may look like chaos but in fact there’s an order, there’s sort of an internal order or a dynamic order to this system. There are things going on that we might not see right away, but maybe if we inspect very, very closely, "Ah, that kind of makes sense. These ants are doing this, they’re getting food, they’re building a nest, they’re building a micro service, they’re deploying services, they’re testing things." So that it turns out you have to use sort of laser focus on a large scale system in order to see one part of it, and there’s not any non-mission view.

So what we wanted to talk about is what are these companies doing in order to create this kind of dynamic system where things are resilient and healthy even though they can’t predict the weather three, four, five days from now. When you’re at Etsy and you’re deploying 10,000 times you can’t test end-to-end to anything. You know, one of the non sequitur jokes that I use is I understand how nature does versioning, I don’t understand how nature does end-to-end testing before release, right? How does this work? How does this happen?

So, I think one of the people who has a pretty good idea about this is Ori Brafman. Ori is an author, an entrepreneur, has Stanford MBA, he’s a UC Berkeley fellow, he’s done all this work on the way people interact in large groups. His work is really, really compelling. "The Starfish and the Spider" was his, sort of, landmark book on leaderless organizations. I think it’s a great book to read. "Sway," this notion that we have, this sort of irrational part of us that leads us to behave in certain ways, especially in groups, is another great book. "Click" it’s a really misleading title. "Click" is how we click with each other, sometimes the very first time we meet. Why is that? What’s going on?

So, we spent all this time exploring the way people behave, and how that affects the way we live, and work, and the jobs we have, and the things we do, and his most recent book, is this book called, "Chaos Imperative" And I love the subtitle, "How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation Effectivness and Success." Chance and disruption. One of the things he points out in his book is that, to the surprise of neuroscientists, there’s really a whole area of the brain that flourishes when we have a little bit of chaos.

I think we’ve all experienced this idea that, you know, "I can’t figure this thing out," or "I’m really on a deadline," or "I’m really in trouble." And suddenly, you get this sort of brilliant idea about how you can sort of get out this mess, how you can solve this problem. Sometimes it’s a short-term thing, sometimes it’s a major breakthrough in the way you’re thinking. And scientists tell us that when the brain gets stressed in certain ways, in this seemingly chaotic environment, sometimes that’s when you come up with some of the greatest leaps of innovation and the greatest leaps of thinking.

This is especially true in groups. So, Ori says we all need what he calls contained chaos in our lives and our careers. Now, the notion of introducing chaos or unleashing chaos can be pretty scary, especially in an organizational system, like, when you think about the way we process things, the way we run our organizations, and the way we have our culture, but it turns out that’s really, really essential and according to Ori, he has five rules of chaos, which I think is a sort of brilliant idea. There are rules for chaos. There are rules for chaos, really Ori?

And his book talks a lot about all this stuff behind it, but I just want to highlight these five rules and give us a couple of stories, because the book is really, really quite amazing. What I find most incredible about the book is he’s telling a story about how he’s bringing these five rules of chaos to the US military. That’s a mind blowing thing to me, that he’s actually helping the military take advantage of their own internal chaos, but let’s just go through the rules a bit.

Rule number one, it’s called organized chaos. That’s even worse than rules, we’re talking organized chaos. And here’s a great example that he talks about. We all know this, right? Donkey Kong, 1980s, about the same time that I’m moving to Kentucky, we get Donkey Kong. And the story behind how we got Donkey Kong, which was a breakthrough idea, is really quite amazing.

It turns out that Nintendo is having a terrible time selling games, they don’t really know what to do. It seems like they’re gonna go under. They just created a bunch of games nobody cares about and printed them up, and they’re sitting around on the shelves. And lo and behold, along comes this one individual Shigeru Miyamoto, an industrial designer who got hired into Nintendo as a favor to his father. He really doesn’t belong there, he get’s put on a team to, like, do some drawings and illustrations for some of the games, and he’s not really good at it, but he’s got this thing in him. He says, "There’s got to be a different way of playing games. He wants to make games stories, he loves flip books. In Japan they have these little flip books, right? You got all these sorts of animations in print, and he thinks games shouldn’t be just like shooter things that are, sort of, a mono idea, but there’s a progression in the story. And everybody tells him, this is not really, really possible. Well, Nintendo’s in big, big trouble. They don’t know what to do.

So, it turns out the head of the organization, Yamauchi, who had actually, as a favor, hired this guy and buried him somewhere, remembers, as things are all going to pot, "You know, there was this one guy that had the odd idea. You know, I’ll bring him in." And so, basically he says, "This company is just in dire need. We don’t know what to do. So, I’m gonna give you a chance to do whatever you want. What are you gonna do?" And all of a sudden [inaudible 00:19:37] he’s been talking for several years about what he wants to do, now he’s got the opportunity. He digs in, he starts learning what’s possible, what’s not, and he comes up with this idea that there is a progression, that there’s somebody who’s gonna save the girl, that there’s actually a story line involved in this whole thing, and that things are going to move on the screen. We didn’t even have side scrollers at this point, it was always just sort of an individual view kind of thing.

So it turns out of course, that this becomes a breakthrough game and it completely changes Nintendo, and changes the way everybody thinks about it. So, you might think that the hero of this story is Miyamoto, but in fact I think the hero is Yamaguchi. I think the hero is the leader because he took a chance. He was able to unleash this person who’s not qualified, who has an odd idea, into the system and keep the rest of it up and running while he makes mistakes, and experiments, and figures out something entirely new. If he’d have followed the rules, Miyamoto never would have had a chance. He would have been left somewhere doing simple illustrations. So, it’s a leader that sees something, realizes it’s disruptive, and still allows that to go on in some kind of safe way. Stability around the chaos is what organized chaos is about. That’s very, very tricky. That’s very tricky, it also takes a lot of courage, a lot of guts.

So rule number two, this is also one that takes a lot of guts, avoid the seductive lure of data and measurements. We would all love to say, "We’ll get a measure to measure to see if you’re successful. Prove it to me. Show me the data." And we do this all the time. But often that data is not there, or it doesn’t make [inaudible 00:21:21], and Brafman tells a great story about this, where he’s teaching all of these leaders inside the military to think outside the box, and to do things in unusual ways, and to become a different kind of leader, not just a follower, not just a pyramid scheme participant.

So, as he’s doing this, he learns a year later that the military, in its infinite wisdom, like we have this phrase, right? Figures out that they’re gonna measure the success of Brafman’s programming. So what do they do? They go to sessions where these individuals have gone through the training, and they’re figuring that they’re better leaders, that they’re more engaged, that they’re more effective. They count how many times those attendees raise their hand, and they literally count the number of times they raise their hands, and even better, they compare it to longitudinal data from other teams where they haven’t received the training. They count how many times they raised their hands, and they decide based on how many hands were raised whether or not Brafman’s project is really working out. It turns out they wanted this data, right? And, of course, this sounds nonsensical to us, right? They needed some measurements somewhere. Their culture was all about data and measurements, and that can really mislead you. Often asking for data and measurements is the best way to shut down creative work. Can you prove it? Oh, never mind.

So, it’s important to realize that this kind of organized chaos is always gonna be imprecise. Remember the Lorenz attractor, right? The fact that where we start doesn’t mean we know exactly where we’re gonna end up, and there’s not some simple path in order to get there. So, you have to be prepared for this idea, you have to be prepared that you’re not gonna have some perfect proof at the end that’s easily quantifiable. You’re gonna have to look at the way the system behaves. What’s actually going on afterwards, not some particular piece of the puzzle.

I love this one, create productive white space. Productive white space. And this goes back to what we talked about before. Often, we end up at a roadblock. We end up at a problem that we can’t figure out and often that roadblock shows up at a deadline. Suddenly, we are pressured. Suddenly, we’ve got to do something, we’ve got to do something fast, and sometimes this happens even with teams, but the best examples I can think of are with individuals. Stuck in a hard place at a deadline some of the most brilliant people step back, and they stop, and they do something else.

Einstein used to play the violin when he couldn’t solve a tough problem. Sometimes he played the violin for days while he’s working on the problem. [inaudible 00:24:15] loved playing bongos when he was in the [inaudible 00:24:19] didn’t know how to solve a problem or work through something. Allan Kay, Allan Kay, the person we, sort of, credited [inaudible 00:24:27] program, he would play the keyboard, he had keyboards in his office and when he was programming the Xerox PARC because that would sort of free up his mind.

Coming up with something else to do often gives us that’s quite white space, that separation, that chance to think differently. Examples I don’t have here which I really love, which I had today, one of the best examples of white space is exercise. You remember how [inaudible 00:24:54] like starting to exercise before we started? Exercise, it turns out, they’ve done several studies, creates a different sort of culture inside a company and an organization. It’s a place to go, it’s a thing to do, it’s away to take your mind off something. People think better, it’s a healthy environment, not just because we’re doing, like, 50,000 steps but just because were doing, we’re moving.

One of the greatest examples are strolling gardens in Japan where you simply go out and you just stroll. I was in Cambridge just last week at the capital of Australia, and there’s a rose garden right outside the Parliament house where you can just walk around. And the idea was if you had a tough problem you needed to get your mind off of it and maybe you just the two of you needed to just to go outside and you just stroll around in the rose garden. I grew up in a boys school where there was this beautiful, beautiful campus and the idea was the beauty itself would change the way you think about things. So, taking time to reflect or daydream when working at the deadline is another important way to, sort of, introduce unexpected things inside your activity, inside your company, inside your own mind.

Rule number four embrace unusual suspects. Often, it’s the person who doesn’t seem to belong in the situation that has the most value to us, or has the most to teach us, or tell us. This is often described in lots of ways like very diversity, or looking for other opinions, or doing other things, but that’s not really, it’s not really about, sort of, finding a particular category and filling it in, its about coming up with an unusual person, or an unusual perspective. Ori tells a great story about a hospital where they are constantly having trouble with… There is not enough hot water in the room. Figuring all sorts of ways they could solve this hot water problem and in this one part of the hospital. Something was going wrong and they didn’t understand it. And, for some reason, it just happened they were having one of these meetings discussing it when somebody from maintenance happened to be in the room at the time, fixing a problem, solving a problem. And he heard the discussion and he said, "You’re having a problem in the so and so wing?" "Yeah." "Oh, I wonder if anybody’s turned off the hot water for that wing?" "Oh, you can do that?" "Oh yeah, there’s a thing in a closet…" And they said, "Lets go." And they all got up and they went to this closet, and sure enough somebody had turned off the hot water. Now, none of the nurses, or doctors, or administrators would’ve ever thought of that, right? So, having diversity is incredibly important.

One of the things he talks about in the book is, if you’re in a meeting and you’re discussing something that nobody really knows something about, the first thing you do is you stop and say, "Who in this company actually knows this stuff? Let’s get her in the meeting. Let’s just ask if she can come in." This idea of finding the unusual suspect is really, really important . Here’s a great example. Dr. William Chester Minor, a prolific contributer Oxford English dictionary in the late 1800s, early 1900s. He contributed lots and lots of verification quotes, he had this huge library, this huge library of material. In his room at the Broadmoor Asylum, nobody would have thought to hire Dr. Chester. Dr. Chester was actually an American who emigrated to England, in a disagreement, shot a man and killed him and was found to be guilty of murder but actually not guilty but insane.

So, then they put him in an asylum. And he was a nice guy so they will let him, sort of, collect books and lots of other things. All of a sudden he has all these valuable books, that the Oxford English dictionary and help use to validate all sorts of entries. Probably the most prolific contributor to the dictionary. Now, that’s a bit of an outside case, we don’t necessarily say we want an asylum member to be joining our group, but here’s something that if he had, sort of, applied for a job would’ve been turned in, right?

We have this constant thing where we want to connect with people like us, and often that’s the worst possible decision. What we need is somebody not like us in the room at the same time. So, actively seek out the unusual suspect, and most of the time there are people inside your own organization. Sometimes they’re just someone who works in a different area that has some skill or knowledge [inaudible 00:29:20], sometimes there’s somebody in your group that’s, sort of, new or marginalized, or comes from a different point of view. So, make sure that you’re always checking for that unusual suspect.

Okay, the last rule. Organize serendipity. This is another one like, organize rules for chaos, it’s a weird combination of words. Serendipity, development and occurrence of events by chance in a happy and beneficial way. Organizing serendipity, organizing chance, getting that into your system is incredibly important. Here’s a great example from the Dutch government. Their Deals Double [SP] program or their Chair sharing program. What the Dutch government wanted to do is make sure that different departments got to know each other, and interact with each other in a more efficient [inaudible 00:30:07].

So, instead of creating some complicated scheme where I get, sort of, farmed out with some other department or something, here’s what they did. They said, every office, every government office needs to designate some extra chairs, some extra desks as open desks that anybody who’s a government employee could use for the day. Just get people to go somewhere else for the day and do their work somewhere else. Some people use this system because now they can go to an office close by, others sort of make it this adventure where they work in a different office every week, just so they can meet new people. And what is happening is people are interacting in new ways.

People they’ve not met before, they overhear conversations, they start to contribute. And what they’ve created is this openness, and this encouraging of ideas where people just bump into each other. This wasn’t complicated, this wasn’t expensive, this isn’t run in some major, you know, hierarchical sort of way. They just came up with the website, sign-up [inaudible 00:31:11]. So, as simple as sharing chairs with some other part of the organization can change and create this, sort of, serendipity that you wouldn’t think of.

All right, so you know when I started this with this book in 1986, 30 years ago. I read this book which has taught me that in dynamical systems, there are a lot of things that you can’t predict, but that’s a good thing, that there’s lots of opportunities in that gap, in that space. It turns out, I just finished a book last week by James Gleick called "Time Travel" which is a hilarious book, I love the book. I got sort of an early taste of what James was working on about a year and a half ago when I met him and he talked about about doing this book.

So here’s this… 30 years later, my mind is already being bent again, because like he had just sort of explained in his book I landed before I took off, right? When I did this one trip. I’m doing time traveling, we all do all, sorts of, weird, sort of time traveling. Remembering 30 years ago, all these other things, this is all of, sort of, our way of traveling around linear time, and traveling around whether it’s in you know, the Dutch government, or in some other unusual suspect way, or through a garden are ways that we can, sort of, create this own internal chaos to kind of break things loose.

Let me tell one more story. Very close friend of mine was having a kind of a chaotic problem. The career that he had chosen wasn’t gonna work out, he hated it. Had this, sort of, cathartic moment where he had to stop everything, and literally stayed at home and built puzzles. Like, he was sort of puzzling out his life, figuring out, what am I going to do? All the time I had spent is not gonna work. And he took all these, sort of, puzzle pieces, and this happened to be one that he kept, and he took hours and hours, he kept building these puzzles over and over again. And that’s, sort of, how he worked through his problem. This was his way is, sort of, occupying the rest of his mind while he figured out what was going to do with his life. He did this for a couple of months.

There’s a problem with puzzles, though. Right? It turns out when you’re working in puzzles, you get really annoyed that there’s a piece missing. Suddenly, all the work you’ve done, all the time you’ve spent is worthless because you think there’s a piece missing. And a lot of people in their life sort of think about this idea that their life is a puzzle and maybe there’s a piece missing, right? This is so annoying, by the way, that you can go on a website and they will make you your missing pieces. By the way, I found more than one company that will do this. This is the Jigsaw Doctor and they do a great job I guess, but that’s how amazing it is to people. Oh, my God! If I could just find this one piece. And often, that’s the way we think our lives are. If we could just find this one piece, man it would be great. But think about it.

Life is not this puzzle, this puzzle that you put together only one way, right? This puzzle that starts out with all the pieces. If you could just figure out how to arrange them. That’s not how life works at all, right? Your life is not a puzzle and it’s certainly not missing a piece. So, there is no perfect traffic, right? You can’t predict traffic, yet you still wander out there hopefully thinking you’re gonna get to work on time, right? There is no weather prediction, yet we still go out every day, we still bring the umbrella, right? We still try to plan when we’ll have our vacation three months from now and hope there’s not a hurricane or tornado. We don’t stop, right? Because it’s not a bag of puzzle pieces not in your company, not in your IT organization, not for your teams or your own life — none of that’s true.

If anything, it’s a box of Legos. The cool thing about Legos is you can do anything you want with them. You can arrange them in any fashion. You can take them apart and build them again. You can come up with all sorts of cool things, whatever you want to do with the Legos. Now, I’m talking about the old Legos, right? Because I’m really annoyed that Legos, today actually sells puzzles, right? Because you can only build one thing, you can build you know, the scooter and that’s it. It really annoys, the big box of Legos is really what most of our life is like, because every Lego can be a little bit different and rearranging them in some other way can give you a totally different result.

The people around us are all opportunities, they’re not puzzles pieces, they are opportunities for creativity, they add chaos to our lives. Some of them are very close to us, some of them live in the same house with us, but they actually offer the greatest potential for creatively solving our problems. So when you think about those rules, about organized chaos, you think about, what can I do to create a situation where somebody can be creative? How can I avoid trying to just measure everything and find that one puzzle piece and think there’s only one way to get this right? How can I create this white space, this pause, this zone where I or anybody else in my group can just relax and take a break?

Can I wait 30 seconds before I ask a question in a meeting? Can I give people just a little bit of space, just a tiny bit? Can I embrace the unusual subjects? Can I find people who I normally wouldn’t talk to? Maybe they’re the exact person that can solve my problem for me. And it’s off the screen, but can I also start chair sharing? Can I just go somewhere? Can I go to the coffee shop and start a conversation with somebody? Can I do something somewhere else? Can I make this possible for others? Because we all need a little chaos in our lives to make things better, to make things different, including in our IT systems. Developing, not puzzle piece, but Lego type systems is a way to do that, and that’s how you can unleash some chaos.

And that’s what I got. Thank you.