The audacious project appeared to be a good idea at the start. Employees would offer their company colleagues words of advice and encourgement. Encouraged by management, the approach would be fun and fanciful. The helpful comments and quips would be contained in speech balloons not unlike a comic strip. The balloons containing the words of wisdom would be positioned over the photograph of the person making the comment. The poster like images would line the second floor hallways of one of our buildings and employees were eager to participate. Since I was already known for my cartoons and quips, the fellow in charge of the project approached me. Would I be willing to pose for a photograph and offer a word of advice and encouragement? Naturally, I said, “of course.”
The second floor was already a hot bed of activity as more and more young people arrived to design and develop exciting new products. It was the perfect time to launch the creative hallway project and to celebrate the sharing of words, wisdom and encouragement. I won’t take the time to share the clever and helpful advice of my colleagues, but I will tell you the advice I gave. It’s short and simple, but if you give it some thought, you’ll find it speaks volumes. The word balloon above my photograph simply read, “Embrace the Chaos.” It was advice I was sure everyone would understand once given some thought. However, I’m afraid I often overestimate the intelligence of my audience. Words are often misunderstood because people simply don’t “get it.”
Let me first explain what happened. In time, my poster was removed, and the powers that be said it was taken down because they thought it was time to swap out a few ideas for others. Important advice, boys and girls. Never kid a kidder. I’ve been around long enough to spot BS a mile away. My poster was taken down because it obviously offended someone. Clearly, someone in management. And, someone not nearly clever enough to understand the pithy comment and advice. You see, “Embrace the Chaos” was never intended as an attack on the management style of the rather large enterprise. It was never a dig at the troubled business unit clearly on a glide path to destruction. The management learned a lesson from my poster and the words of advice it contained. The problem is, they simply learned the wrong lesson.
Allow me to explain. My advice, “Embrace the Chaos” is simply referring to the creative process. A process that creative people have always understood. Over the years I’ve spoken with creative people including authors, artists and computer scientists. All of us are well aware of the process that tends to be messy, disorganized and chaotic. It’s how we find our way. It’s how we solve problems. Whether it’s a new motion picture or an innovative piece of computer software, the path to our final destination is more often than not - a messy one. My advice to the creative young people was not to fear the difficult task and the problems along the way. Rather, embrace the failures. The failures that will eventually lead you to success. I thought I more than made myself clear but apparently I was wrong. It would appear that a clueless management completly misunderstood my words and intention. And, it makes me worry and wonder how many other things they completely get wrong?