I’ve been reading today two great articles on FastCompany about Generation Flux – the new generation of entrepreneurs who love chaos. Generation Flux is the name coined by Robert Safian, and unlike generations X and Y which were age-related demographics, Generation Flux is a state of mind.
Generation Flux has the following characteristics:
- Chaos seen as an opportunity rather than a challenge
- Embrace adaptability and flexibility
- Openness to learning from anywhere;
- Decisiveness tempered by the knowledge that business life today can shift radically every three months
- No single model of leadership
- Doesn’t wait but reinvents
- Little fear of failure
In their second article, Safian looks at how the most creative companies are embracing chaos in innovation.
This also is a really excellent article especially as Safian discusses chaos theory with leading business writer Margaret Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science which is how businesses are learning how to change their thinking by embracing the new sciences of chaos theory, complexity theory and quantum physics. It is a wonderful book which I always recommend to people.
This article is at its strongest when discussing “shared consciousness” and the challenge of managing hierarchies in organisations while still encouraging creativity, openness, trust and communication. There are also some really great comments about mindfulness, and the need to find time for meditation and contemplation. That is great too.
One thing did strike me though when reading the articles, and that is the focus on short term thinking. Here is a quote from Wes Anderson, CEO of Box:
The three-month road map is about the best horizon you can think about coherently
Safian describes Anderson as “a great example of what it means to be a Generation Flux leader.” If there is one thing I feel missing from all the great examples of Generation Flux leaders, it is a notion of nature, mother nature, the ecosystem of which we are a part. For all the talk of movement away from Newtonian thinking, there still remain many fragments of this despite claims to have shifted into a new paradigm. These Generation Flux leaders I would suggest have not entered into the fire stage of thinking, a rarified quality of thinking which leads to true transformation.
See this article for a detailed account of the four elements of thinking: Intuition, Paradigm Shifts and the Four Qualities of Knowing
Where I would like to ask is the wisdom of long term thinking, or systemic thinking, of an understanding of the impact that our actions have on others, on ourselves, and on our planet? Could it be that in our technology-obsessed world, we really are suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder?
Next week I will be publishing a book review of Henri Bortoft’s new book Taking Appearance Seriously where he provides a stunning reappraisal of the history of science, and shows us how we need to experience a shift in our thinking to truly comprehend dynamic organic non-linear systems. To enter into what Henri calls the dynamic way of thinking is going to be the next real and authentic paradigm shift, and not one where although chaos theory is embraced, we are still stuck in an egocentric world view where we see ourselves as subjects separate from all other objects, and this fail to comprehend the notion of authentic whole systems.
I have had the luck to attend two recent forums in São Paulo, and for me I would suggest that Generation Flux takes the time to learn from leaders such as Pedro Passo, a founder of Natura who has an authentic comprehension of the natural systems, and Lindolfo Martin, President of Multicoisas, who understands the role intuition plays in our business and social lives.
By all means enjoy the chaos, but living systems are not, I repeat not, chaotic systems. Living systems operate on the edge of chaos, that creative space which marks the intersection of order and chaos, and so if Generation Flux fail to apprecite this, if they fail to appreciate this interplay between order and chaos, well, the only thing that happens to extremely chaotic systems is that in the end they collapse. The enge of chaos is a wonderful place to be, I just hope that this Generation Flux has the navigation tools to find it.
This article continues with Part Two: