The Emergence of New Paradoxes

The increasing trend of our world moving from a VUCA World to a Complex World is Puzzling.  Dr. Rod King wrote in a recent comment “I believe that we are experiencing the “Age of Simplexity,” a time when many situations reflect the paradox of simplexity; being simultaneously simple and complex. We are moving from a VUCA to a Simplex Environment”.

Complex or Simplex environments require the flow of creative ideas to meet their problems at higher levels than the causes that led to this complexity. Creativity and the flow of ideas are essential requirements in today’s world.

The paradox that is as much we realize the need for more creative ideas it is us who reject them.

Rejection of creative ideas is not a new issue. It has been there for a long time. What is new is the accelerating need for them coupled with the accelerated tendency to reject them.

What are the causes for rejection?

It is the responsibility of the presenter of a creative idea to present it with enough proofs and humility as much as the responsibility of the receivers of the idea to listen attentively with open minds. It is balancing the rejecter and the rejected.

The rejection of ideas is in proportion to their unfamiliarity. The more the “ideas gaps” between what we believe in and what the ideas suggest, the greater the rejection shall be.

The world is shifting from a normal distribution to long-tail distribution. I believe so are creative ideas. There are few creative ideas that create the greatest impact and these extreme ideas are the most rejected.

One explanation for this phenomenon is that we are not only first-cost-minded; equally, we are first-impression-minded. The strangeness of a creative idea is proportional to its rejection.

This explanation is in agreement with what we know from history. So many ideas received that humans rejected at first proved later that they were gems. The light bulb, the TV, personal laptops, and the electronic cameras were ridiculed when first presented, but then later became popular.

The irony is that many ideas due to their strangeness received downgrading comments from leading scientists and businesspeople that later showed their validity and acceptance. Are we not learning from history that rejection of a great idea prematurely exposes the rejecter to embarrassment later?

There is a growing need for us to pause and smell an idea before rejecting it. Not doing this reveals that we are not willing to explore uncovered possibilities and we lack wonderment and the spirit of discovery. This is sharply contrasting with our growing need to explore and discover. Charlotte Wittenkamp expressed the need for pausing in a recent comment. She wrote “This thread made me think of one of Karthik Rajan‘s stories about brainstorming. It plays to the same idea that you mention, Jean L. Serio, that if we invite input very early in the process before our own ego is too invested in one particular solution or model, feedback is less of an up-down vote and more open to what-about and other “objections”. In that process, it is possible to gather many ambassadors for the idea among all those who contributed turning something nebulous into a solution”.

I also relate our failure to accept new ideas that distance us from accepting new ones is our tendency not to be proven wrong. Our self-esteem is a great barrier here.
This is another paradox– we want self-esteem by proving we are right. However, is self-esteem that bases itself on wrong ideas is real? Is fake self-esteem better than real self-esteem?

Growth increases with creative ideas. We all aspire for growth. The paradox is that we ask for growth and we reject the ideas that open paths for growth.

Our world is growing with emerging paradoxes.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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  1. I think Kartnik Rajan deserves that more of his story gets known:

    “I was once seated in front of my boss during an annual review. He was pensive. Knowing him through the years, I knew he was about to say something deep. All he shared, “I like that you are among the first to venture to a white board.”
    When I gave him a quizzical look, he elaborated –“I like that you volunteer as the first one to the whiteboard. It helps set the tone. Not everyone puts themselves out there in a group setting with a rough idea.”
    What I understood then – he liked that I took an initiative even when the ideas were half-baked – sometimes quarter baked. I enjoy problem framing – rough drafts on paper, on whiteboards, even on napkins over lunch – with pens borrowed from the waiters.
    What I did not realize until today – a rough draft gives control to the recipients to become collaborators. The art of editing and refining does something to people – they make the idea their own.”

    As the rest of the post is worth reading as well, here it is:

    • Charlotte, what you suggest makes sense. Waiting for ideas to be “fully baked” deprives others from the opportunity to early on add their ideas and comments. We lose feedback.

      I noticed that I get the maximum feedback in comments and other forms when I leave voids half-filled so that readers may engage and find the answer”what is in post for me”.

      Could you lend me a pencil, please?

  2. Christopher,

    I am so glad to read your comment and support and highlighting the paradox of growth.

    I value your call for minds to interact on this topic because more paradoxes shall emerge and we need to be alert on how to manage paradoxes in balanced ways by sharing our experiences. This exchange should definitely cater for what you expressed “how to get a meaningful and productive conversation started”.

    I hope your relevant comment would get the ball of discussion rolling.

  3. Ali
    This is a very thought provoking post. I agree with your hypothesis that“ Growth increases with creative ideas. We all aspire for growth. The paradox is that we ask for growth and we reject the ideas that open paths for growth.” I like the reference you made to Jean L Serio.
    This is an important discussion that needs to take place, probably amongst greater minds than mine. Serio’s opinion or hypothesis of the early invitation and exploration of novel ideas, concepts etc. Is an obvious way forward and would certainly go some way to addressing the paradox you have highlighted. Next challenge is I guess how to get a meaningful and productive conversation started. One of the major challenges in my view will be the personalities, characters involved and the respective ego’s. I do hope you and others get the ball rolling. I remain optimistic and wish you well.