Tag Archives: chaos theory

peace, conflict and chaos

here is the link to my final post on brainblogger on using chaos theory to understand conflict and, hopefully, see which way peace lies.  following the lead of a team of multidiscplinary researchers (psychologists, sociologists, etc.), we look at three solutions:

interrupting the feedback loop of conflict

finding commonalities

the butterfly effect – doing small things

chaotic thoughts on employment counselling

another live blog from the career management conference!

glenn olien works in employment/career counselling in the construction industry

warning: aptly, since this is about chaos theory in counselling, these notes will be somewhat chaotic, more than the two live blogs before. kind of like twitter on a blog 🙂

questions to be discussed: why do people fall into the pit of unemployment?

he also kept asking, “who gets a good job? who doesn’t? why not?”

he was a funding officer for a while. he figured that a program that helps people with employment would work “if they loved the participants”

career counselling and chaos theory: why does the marble attract employment, why does it resist employment?

supported work model in nelson: people with serious mental health issues were helped to get a job, they loved their jobs so much they had to be told not to work saturdays

(i love how he keeps saying, “then i was REALLY confused”)

glenn olien is the author of the unified employment theory

he worked with a chaos and complexity advisor to further explore his ideas

“i wrote thousands of words and threw them all away”

now it’s all in one sentence:

all human potential for change can be represented by a fractal object with 33 parts

his theory is used in all kinds of different environments – eg unified famliy transitions theory


all his work is about tools of the imagination; it’s magical

research: people who go through a 2-week program that uses this approach were 300 percent more effective

unemployment can be seen as a failure to imagine

“every bad job i’ve gotten i’ve job searched”

“you can’t be an expert on a mystery” – “i’m not an expert, i just help people with their imagination”

the alchemy of drawing a line between now and the future: it CHANGES your future

chaos scientists are finding that if you deal with genuine complexity, no matter how much knowledge you have, the best thing you can do is use your imagination


fractals generate all the complexity in our lives. those objects which are not fractals can be fixed. that’s why we can’t fix people

fractals: if you look at something and look at it closer and closer, you keep seeing the same patterns again and again

everything that’s controllable is based on euclidian geometry; that’s the stuff that is completely predictable

examples of fractals in the human body: veins keep on branching and branching and branching in the same way

a fractal is the signature left behind from complexity

in employment: our employment patterns follow the same structures

a company is a fractal made up of its employees (the health, education, etc. of its employees)

if you change one part of something, for example the education of an employee, you change the whole thing – that’s the butterfly effect

as counsellors, when we say something small to a client, it can have a huge effect

big effort, no change …. big effort, little change …. big effort, large change
small effort, no change …. small effort, little change …. small effort, large change

–> all these are possible. often hard to predict

big effort, no change – it’s because wenow we”re complex; we may look at doing X to produce Y, doing a lot of X to produce why – but there may be other areas in our complexity (like A, G and M) that hinder the effort

information can be fractaled

after the break: now we’re on to trying out his theory, using this site

we’re asked to think of a dream job and use the tool.  i’m using the online tool which is specifically designed for construction workers.  one of my dream jobs is corporate philosopher.  that’s kind of amusing.

his theory is very much centered around getting support.   eg getting support from friends in finding a job.  thinking: what is the general pattern of a person’s supports?  how does that pattern propagate through all the different aspects of those supports?  (e.g. is the way you look for help from family similar to the way you look for help from friends?)

“now”, he says, “comes the magic part”.  first we look at all the 33 parts of the employment fractal and see where we already HAVE what we need.  then we look at what we want to improve.  the actual action of visually representing for ourselves is magical – “it’s amazing,” he says, “to see what happens when you do nothing but fill in the assessment, put it away, and then go back to it a month later – chances are you’ll have gotten closer to where you want to be.” this activity can be the butterfly effect.

he also has ways of creating action plans from this.

this is the practical part.  i want to hear more about how all of this ties in to chaos and complexity!  will we have time to talk about that?

chaos and creativity

chaos and creativityjeremy and i are having a cross-blog conversation about creativity. it all started with an article by jeremy that investigated the difficulty with explaining much of the creative process. my thoughts were that important aspects of creativity happen in “murky” places of the mind because it may just be in this very obscurity that new thoughts, images, sounds, shapes and words are born. jeremy’s response was

i’d argue that this murkiness is really a by-product of an exceptionally complicated process. people can’t explain their creativity because they don’t understand it themselves, and neither does anyone else.

this delights me no end because it brings up the subject of chaos!

john briggs and f. david peat say

the scientific term chaos refers to an underlying interconnectedness that exists in apparently random events. chaos science focuses on hidden patterns, nuance, the “sensitivity” of things, and the “rules” for how the unpredictable leads to the new. it is an attempt to understand the movements that create thunderstorms, raging rivers, hurricanes, jagged peaks, gnarled coastlines, and complex patterns of all sorts, from river deltas to the nerves and blood vessels in our bodies.chaos and water

… to the swirls of colour in a painting by van gogh, the soul-stirring screams of jimi hendrix’ guitar, and the awe-inspiring shapes of gaudi’s architecture? …

what is chaotic is not un-understandable but is infinitely complex and cannot be measured with ordinary measuring sticks. is that what jeremy might be alluding to?

indeed, “lesson 1”, the second chapter in briggs’ and peat’s seven life lessons of chaos is entitled: being creative: lessons of the vortex.

chaos theory is generally used to study what is called “open” and “self-organizing systems”. very generally speaking, an open system interacts with and is acted upon by its environment. there is a constant influx and outflow of energy and matter. self-organizing systems do not need to be passively “fed” by the environment (e.g. like a stove that needs to be turned on) but actively go out and make things happen (e.g. leave the cave and come back with a slain mastodon). all living things are self-organizing systems. self-organizing systems have certain boundaries and patterns of operation but exactly how they operate under which circumstances is difficult to predict (hence the problem with the weather man. incidentally, meteorology is a science that uses chaos theory quite extensively.)

a hug is a good example of chaotic interaction between two self-organizing open systems (people). the general idea of the hug is there but how exactly it will occur is anyone’s guess. who will approach whom first? how long will it last? will there be kisses? we don’t know. no two hugs are the same. the quality, length, and other aspects of the hug depend on many factors, including the environment outside of the two systems (is it happening at a bank? in a church?).

here are a few tidbits of what briggs and peat say about open systems, creativity and chaos in their book:

  • our brain self-organizes by changing its subtle connectivity with every act of perceptionvan gogh, turbulence, art and chaos
  • healing of mind and body in many traditional societies involves a descent into darkness, chaos and death … a creative self-reorganization becomes possible (is that the murkiness we were talking about?)
  • a drip of paint on the canvas, a slip with the chisel on marble … can create a bifurcation point, a moment of truth that amplifies and begins to self-organize the [art] work
  • moments of flow and exhilaration are the reward for the previous descent into chaos, uncertainty, discomfort, or shock at simply not knowing. the chaos hasn’t ended, of course. it’s still there, surrounding and feeding the creative activity, like the turbulence fluctuating behind rocks in a river continuously feeding the vortex it has generated
  • when out psychological perspective shifts – through moments of bifurcation and amplification – or degrees of freedom expand and we experience being and truth. we are then creative. and our true self lies there.