Mixing fluid and rigid systems

Nietzsche famously argued that art grows from the marriage of Apollo, the Greek god embodying rationality, order and planning, and Dionysus, who embodies drunken disorder and wild dancing.  The two gods obviously conflict, but their unruly marriage is essential, Nietzsche said.

Strong companies likewise embody a continuous conflict between these two poles, both over time and in the moment. Depending on the market, a company’s history is series of oscillations between process and improvisation, rigidity and plasticity, calculated striving and reckless reaching. As a company passes from green-field innovation to peddling mature products, different aspects of this double personality rule.  Often different departments embody these two outlooks — flaky marketers versus button-down accounting, promise-anything salespeople versus system-building programmers.

So it’s amazing to see new research indicating that creative brains blend regions specializing in chaotic/fluid and planned/rigid activities. According to research done with brain scans at the University of Haifa:

“On the one hand, there is surely a need for a region that tosses out innovative ideas, but on the other hand there is also the need for one that will know to evaluate how applicable and reasonable these ideas are. The ability of the brain to operate these two regions in parallel is what results in creativity. It is possible that the most sublime creations of humanity were produced by people who had an especially strong connection between the two regions,” the researchers concluded.