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The term “chaos” currently has a variety of accepted meanings, but here we shall use it to mean deterministically, or nearly deterministically, governed behavior that nevertheless looks rather random. Upon closer inspection, chaotic behavior will generally appear more systematic, but not so much so that it will repeat itself at regular intervals, as do, for example, the ocean tides.


Anytime we see systems in apparent chaos, our training urges us to interfere, to stabilize and shore things up. But if we can trust the workings of chaos, we will see that the dominant shape of our organizations can be maintained if we retain clarity about the purpose and direction of the organization. If we succeed in maintaining focus, rather than hands-on control, we also create the flexibility and responsiveness that every organization craves. What leaders are called upon to do in a chaotic world is to shape their organizations through concepts, not through elaborate rules or structures.                                      

 — MARGARET J. WHEATLEY, Leadership and the New Science (1992)
Cinnamon Ferns – © Dave Higgins

In A Nutshell: While living systems may appear chaotic, that chaos often conceals an underlying order. In these systems, tiny factors can produce profound and unpredictable outcomes.

The Science

Pendulum Waves with Philip Glass – a cool video of a series of pendulums demonstrating chaotic behavior.

Double Pendulum Chaos Light Writing – another video, using a computer simulation that reveals order within chaos.

Rocketboom: Chaos Theory – a brief, hip video look at Chaos Theory and fractals.

Chaos Theory Explained – a video demonstration of Chaos Theory, using a pendulum.

How It Can Apply In Our World

Dancing 2008 – Sometimes the world can seem like a chaotic mass of cultural differences. But we might be able to find our collective human spirit – if we just go dancing.

Chaos Thinksite – a web site that explores the ways chaos science can be applied to enterprise leadership. 

Complexity and Chaos in Nursing – a journal focused on using the paradigms of chaos and complexity to develop new concepts and theories for the field of nursing.

Quantum Sense – My writings on the subject.

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