Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Levels of abstraction, from Order to Chaos and back again

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened." - Douglas Adams from 'The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy'
For years, I've thought about the order and chaos of the Universe as a lens to look at work. There is order in the universe in that there is this one large blob. But it quickly devolves into chaos when you see each of the galaxies. But looking at our galaxy, there is a sense of order in the spiral arms that make it up and the line of stars in the night sky that we see. This devolves again into chaos as we see the scattering of star systems within the galaxy. But order shows itself again in the orbits of the planets around the sun and the seemingly-perfect spheres that the planets and moons make. But a closer look reveals the chaos of the surface of the planet with mountains and valleys. We can continue this journey to the infinitesimile, but you should get the idea by now :)

Now think about working in a company. The company has a simple goal of making a profit. Then there is the chaos of how the organization is split up But in business unit, there are often annual goals which are very specific. These are to be met by a variety of teams that must figure out a plan to meet these goals, which you as an individual have specific annual goals. However, on a day-do-day basis, your time is spent doing many things, only some of which is towards the annual goals directly.

If you are still reading, congratulations! (and thanks for bearing with me while I try to get to the point) So, where do you like spending your time, in the chaos or the order? Where do your peers like spending time? In which location does your company's culture want you to spend your time?

Just something to ponder...

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