Why Complexity Provides Creative Opportunities

–Examples Of ...

The question that occurred to me is the exponentially growing need for creative ideas in dealing with complex systems as our world is.

Does creativity give room for more creative opportunities?

This post attempts to answer the relationship between complexity and creativity.

Extremes Lead to Complexity

When a system moves away from its balance and is on the edge of chaos, it creates the opposite effect. For example, extreme love leads to jealousy and a tendency to control the beloved one.

Over-connectivity leads to rigidity gaps.

Very fast growth leads to the exhaustion of resources and a poverty gap emerges.

Very fast successes lead to the success syndrome and its ill effects.

Too much focus on one issue creates weaknesses. Enron focused much on patronizing talents. The talented people sought to show their talents at the expense of doing their jobs and Enron went bankrupt.

How Can We Put Gaps and Reverse Effect to Good Use?

Let me share known examples first.

When the police in Florida penalized the mostly young traffic offenders by jailing them the youth boosted their manhood being jailed. Jail became pride-booster. Going to this extreme exposed them to the fragility of their pride. Taking pride away from them became humiliating. Therefore, the punishment in jail was to feed offenders with baby food. The pride of manhood for being jailed vanished.

The creative approach for going to the extreme is by devising a contrarian rule to offset the current prevailing situation. In the above traffic examples the rules are:

  • Penalize the offending drivers
  • Treat jailed violators like babies,

A similar case again of traffic violators in Finland where a different creative idea helped eradicates the problem.

The speedy drivers did not mind paying the fine to show that they are brave and strong A simple, yet powerful creative idea emerged from reversing their attitude by making the committed drivers shine. The idea was to use part of the collected fines to give big money to luck drivers who kept the speed limit. The idea worked beautifully. This is consistent with the idea that extremes open the door for simple creative ideas to be effective.

I may adhere that one rule cannot clap on its own. You need a second rule to exploit the emerging weakness emerging from the first rule.

Here, In the Finnish experience the two rules are:

  • Penalize uncommitted drivers
  • Reward committed drivers
  • Use revenues collected from penalties to reward lucky committed drivers by lottery.

A third example is too much consumption leads to piling wastes. These wastes can be a resource for use with simple creative ideas.

A Jordanian young man collected the surplus of milk that owners were not allowed to dispense off outside and pollute the surroundings. Instead of seeing it as a waste, this man used it as a cheap resource to manufacture white cheese, which is highly favorable by some residents migrating from the Middle East. The business thrived.

A fourth example is people staying away from buying brand new cars with scratches on the outside. This extreme rejection became the spark for a creative idea.

A car dealer had many cars left in the showrooms towards the yearend. The common policy is to offer discounts so that people may buy them before the arrival of new models. The manager had a simple, yet very powerful idea. To scratch very lightly with a pin three cars and offer high discounts for visitors of the showrooms who find the scratches.

Instead of seeing the scratched cars as low-quality cars, the visitors overwhelmed with curiosity rushed to find the scratches to get a good deal. The dealer sold the three cars with a generous discount but also realized that the dealer was honest for advertising the scratches. The visitors trusted the dealer and all bought all cars in the showrooms at a minimum discount.

This brings the idea that overconsumption creates problems such as waste disposal, a vast array of choices, and a great number of suppliers. These weaknesses opened the opportunity for simple creative ideas to emerge.

I have two questions for readers:

  • Reading the above, how would you change the campaigns urging smokers to quit smoking by borrowing ideas from the above examples?
  • The leftover ideas, beliefs and whatever is a great source for creative approaches. Can you think of few ideas?

Our times are excessive in information generation, communications, choices, and connections. These rapid developments are taking us to the extreme and our world is getting more complex than ever. These developments open the door wide open for generating creatively simple, but effective ideas to seize the emerging opportunities.

The more complex our societies are, the more weaknesses shall emerge and the more opportunities shall be available for the creative minds.


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. As a partnering session facilitator… Well, let me explain that a bit first. I’m hired to conduct team building and issue resolution sessions for construction teams before breaking ground. For example, the F-35 Operations and Maintenance Facility at Luke AFB in Arizona was one of those projects. My job is to stand in the middle of the room and lessen entropy from the start. In the issue resolution section, we list all the issues with the edict of not solving them, just listing. Then we go back through the list to determine and solve appropriately.

    My sessions are unique, including verbiage such as ‘jobarchy,’ the job is the boss and everyone wins. ‘There’s no ego without wego’ is a follow up, just to mix it up, and get them thinking outside the normal paradigms. I’ve found that in these and other project teams or organizations there is a natural flow that is yet to be discovered because the right questions aren’t being asked. I’ve learned to stand in the middle of chaos or entropy and find order, just by being still and aware that the right questions will lead to better order. It’s not about trying to solve problems with knowledge we have. If we had the knowledge, the problems wouldn’t happen in the first place. ‘I don’t know,’ is a death knell to many, yet when you start from that place and ask the right questions, it’s natural solution emerges from the group.

    We face that today in the great reset or rather the great awakening. It’s the same, just different verbiage. How we see it matters most as we’ll react or respond accordingly. My point is the complexity is handled simply by the open and transparent communication amongst the organization, team et al. It’s odd at first, because people aren’t used to be listened to, let alone intently and responsively. So, I never think of ‘problems,’ just opportunities to better organize people, places and things of their own accord.

    Enjoyed the read, Ali. Thank you!

    • If I only get such a comment from you, Zen then I am more than rewarded and satisfied.

      Your comment is a great way to move out of complexity to simplicity. First by creating common understanding among team members on the problems they face by asking the right questions to know where the team stands currently. This is well-reflected in your comment “I’ve found that in these and other project teams or organizations there is a natural flow that is yet to be discovered because the right questions aren’t being asked. I’ve learned to stand in the middle of chaos or entropy and find order, just by being still and aware that the right questions will lead to better order”. This is so deep and practical and I love what you do,

      This takes me to your brilliant conclusion. “My point is the complexity is handled simply by the open and transparent communication amongst the organization, team et al”.
      Complex systems are open systems and we cannot deal with them except with higher level of openness. Starting with such an environment is very helpful.

      . I salute your comment wholeheartedly and find that you Zen provide a great method for dealing with complexity. You have a great experience to share with others.

  2. I must highlight two important issues this post discusses:
    1- We need to have a good idea that the problem we are trying to solve is the problem
    2- We need to classify problems into simple, complicated, complex pr chaotic with no apparent reason. I
    What I tried to offer in this post is a solution to complex problems- that is a framework for creative thinking. I showed two examples pertinent to traffic offenders and how two widely different approaches were helpful in solving them.

    Sometimes the problem of complexity is the deceptive look of it. For example, the trouble of the traffic offenders was mainly the feeling of pride that they violated and the cheerful friends who admired their courageous acts. The problem was solving the pride problem more than it was solving the traffic offending one.

    This is why I said knowing the problem is the problem.

    The Problem is Knowing the Problem