Comfort with ambiguity

Finally polished off “Emergence” by Stephen Johnson (another post on it here) – the last 30 pages have been lingering for about 2 weeks.

Johnson’s ideas continue to touch on themes I’ve been explaining to others for two years now. More recently, on why boomers continue to misunderstand their Gen Y cousins. Take for example, Johnson’s conclusions about what video games are doing to all of us (but Yers in particular):

The conventional wisdom about these kids (gen Yers) is that they’re more nimble at puzzle solving and more manually dexterous than the TV generation, and while there’s certainly some truth to that, I think we lose something important in stressing how talented this generation is with their joysticks. I think they have developed another skill, one that almost looks like patience: they are more tolerant of being out of control, more tolerant of that exploratory phase where rules don’t all make sense, and where few goals have been clearly defined. In other words, they are uniquely equipped the more oblique control system of emergence software (and, I might add, emergent systems more generally).

While the boomer vs. gen Y comparison is generally apt, l think even more than being generational this is class based. Emerging creative classers are not only comfortable with this exploratory phase, they actively need it. This is why the large bureaucracies (but not necessarily large organizations) struggle to attract and retain both the demographic and the class. They often force upon their workers too much structure, to much rigidity on the front end, evaporating the creative opportunities where we might imagine something better, bigger or more effective.

A note of caution too for those who think the financial collapse augers a new era of safety in large bureaucracies. Don’t fool yourself. It was the large bureaucracies of the banks and government regulators, working in tandem, that got us into this mess. While some creative classers may attempt to retreat to the safety of a large government or private sector institutions I suspect that many will do just the opposite. As bureaucracies become still more risk averse and controling their capacity to foster to new ideas and approaches will be that much more constrained. The “outside thinkers” will be in still greater demand.

2 thoughts on “Comfort with ambiguity

  1. Igniter

    The last bit on 'outside thinkers' reminds me of posts on edge competencies and the ability to work on the edges/frontiers. We're moving towards a new mode of organizing in a context that is increasingly instable. It seems like a the new 'security' has more to do with some sort of 'self-security' coming out of a comfort with our own, individual ability to make a unique and valuable contribution to the community and a comfort with providing that contribution wherever it is welcomed a opposed to within the same place or organization. An interesting part in that too is that some might argue that is a more indpendent/individualistic perspective – being self-dependent – but it is actually emerging from and requires and encourages an interdependent mindset.And I think you are right – this has more to do with a class – based on mindset – than it does with generations. It naturally happens though that younger generations are apt to work from this mindset as they are less subject to the older approaches that are now in flux – but it's not about the generation, it's about the underlying mindset.

    Reply
  2. Igniter

    The last bit on 'outside thinkers' reminds me of posts on edge competencies and the ability to work on the edges/frontiers. We're moving towards a new mode of organizing in a context that is increasingly instable. It seems like a the new 'security' has more to do with some sort of 'self-security' coming out of a comfort with our own, individual ability to make a unique and valuable contribution to the community and a comfort with providing that contribution wherever it is welcomed a opposed to within the same place or organization. An interesting part in that too is that some might argue that is a more indpendent/individualistic perspective – being self-dependent – but it is actually emerging from and requires and encourages an interdependent mindset.And I think you are right – this has more to do with a class – based on mindset – than it does with generations. It naturally happens though that younger generations are apt to work from this mindset as they are less subject to the older approaches that are now in flux – but it's not about the generation, it's about the underlying mindset.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s