Subversive. Heretical. Blasphemous. Sacrilegious. Profane. Charming. A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder; How crammed closets, cluttered offices, and on-the-fly planning make the world a better place by Eric Abrahamson & David H. Freedman is a dense, irreverent, thought-provoking rallying cry against the modern march to perfectionism. It is charming.
The message? “Dude, chill.” Creativity thrives in chaos. Many people are stifled by keeping exact time, alphabetical files, flat views of bare table tops, linear thinking. Drawing from examples in restaurant staffing, Internet search engines, hospital management and too many other realms to detail, the authors delight in demonstrating that messes are often highly prized and extremely effective tools for sparking and supporting innovation. And guess what – our Universe doesn’t quite work to perfection either. Brownian motion – the movement of solid particles suspended in a liquid and bounced around by faster-moving molecules in the liquid – is random. Einstein’s analysis of Brownian motion led to confirmation that molecules and atoms exist.
Abrahamson and Freedman don’t insist control and orderliness are automatically unproductive – airplane cockpits, for example, are painstakingly designed to provide optimal control to pilots. They don’t absolve us from paying our bills on time, and they unhesitatingly acknowledge the obstacles and pain faced by people with ADD, hoarding disorder or other such challenges. But chill, dude.
Fittingly, I found this book in a Goodwill, in an only slightly-organized selection of “Home Improvement” books. And I hope the photos are inspiring.