Inject chaos in your life

There is, I believe, a tension between management and innovation. Innovation is fundamentally disruptive. There is plenty of evidence that too much order is a bad idea:

  • If your heart becomes too regular, you may be about to die.
  • American backyards made of only good-looking grass are high-energy, unstable systems.

However, complete chaos is not productive. What is needed is some form of partially controlled chaos. The solution? Embrace some chaos, seek diversity! But keep your basic sane routine intact.

If you are a researcher, I have a challenge for you: once a year, work on a project and publish a paper that is crazy. It can be a project outside of your normal field of expertise. In any case, it should raise some eye brows. If you have tenure or a similarly stable job, why would you not? You will not get fired for writing one crazy paper a year. But it may greatly enhance the biodiversity of your ideas.

If you are a software designer, design one totally crazy software application every year. Write a piece of software that has nothing to do with your own work, or that goes against all principles you normally apply. Finding time for a wild project is not so difficult. The project itself may not be productive, but it may keep you on your toes.

The idea is not to throw away the much-needed regularity that keeps us productive. But please, inject chaos in your life.

Note: Having kids counts as controlled chaos.

Daniel Lemire, "Inject chaos in your life," in Daniel Lemire's blog, September 9, 2008.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

One thought on “Inject chaos in your life”

  1. In other words, would we prefer the Kolmogorov complexity of our life (K(life)) to be low or high? Would the goal rather be minimizing it or maximizing? I tend to think that the right answer is again conflicting – minimizing, however, on the other hand, we would not want to reach the “goal” (->0). heart “behavior” would be maximally regular then.

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