Tim Harford’s *Messy*

The subtitle is The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives, and it is Tim’s best and deepest book.  You’ll be hearing more about it in due time, the publication date is October 4, you can pre-order it here.

Comments

Sounds interesting but I wonder if messiness is only of benefit to the very talented? For us regular folk, I've found messiness clutters the mind and gets in the way of getting things done.

Some of the most talented and bright people I know are not organized at all, so I can see where he may be going with this though.

More likely that brilliant people have enablers who are willing to do their organisation for them. Or they are allowed to only be "idea" people, who don't need to coordinate their activities with other people to deliver and integrated work product. I would be more messy than I am time, but I have been forced to organize myself to achieve my work goals.

Sometimes it is an imposition of some semblance of order on what is fundamentally disordered.

One of the most powerful insights in physics was the notion that there are some conditions where it is impossible to find any order except the degree to which it is unpredictable. Being able to predict that state or recognize it means you can either avoid it, or if you are in it just go along for the ride and minimize your downside.

Someone will figure out one day that the current lack of productivity advancement is due to the extremely resource sucking maw of trying to impose some order through technology onto systems or processes that are fundamentally unordered, unpredictable and out of your control.

"Someone will figure out one day that the current lack of productivity advancement is due to the extremely resource sucking maw of trying to impose some order through technology onto systems or processes that are fundamentally unordered, unpredictable and out of your control." Good point. Deciding what is worth trying to impose some order on, or trying to figure out what you are even able to impose order on, can be a massive time suck.

"Someone will figure out one day that the current lack of productivity advancement is due to the extremely resource sucking maw of trying to impose some order through technology onto systems or processes that are fundamentally unordered, unpredictable and out of your control."

Any examples of this?

I'm lacking in time at this moment, but almost every commercial software application.

I deal with them from the outside, and I see counter sales people who are the sharp edge of revenue generators being bogged down with software that requires them to do things that are either frivolous or better done by someone who costs less.

The list goes on and on. I hedge my dealings with either customers or suppliers based on the treachery of their software solutions. The bad ones simply will not survive.

My nominee would be poorly designed interfaces (or ones that are hard to maintain, which is what this example is).

Simple example:
Parking fee for next year rose to $30.
To get a sticker, I need to pay online ahead (so the parking office doesn't have to handle cash).
BUT, the online application didn't have the prices updates, so I could only pay $25 for the sticker I needed, and the receipt I have to turn in says $25, not $30.
Tomorrow, we will have to sort this out in person.

Brian Greene once said on NPR that his dorm room was voted "Messiest at Harvard" one year but later said he became extremely organized with no clutter around his desk.

Einstein's desk when he died. https://designschool.canva.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/cache/2015/05/einstein-desk/einstein-desk-662x614.jpg

"5 Reasons Creative Geniuses Like Einstein, Twain and Zuckerberg Had Messy Desks – And Why You Should Too"

https://designschool.canva.com/blog/creative-desks/

Rio Branco, one of Brazil's greatest statesmen, lost lots of silver coins and pocket watches on his four work tables. As soon as paper work took over a table, he would go to another table, then another one and then another one. But he created modern Brazil.

From the appearance I more or less expected Einstein to be messy. The surprise for me was the clean cut Steve Job,

"""Steve Jobs was, ironically, one for plenty of mess. The man that has done more to streamline and declutter our workspaces than any other, but he himself was in fact someone who was more than happy to wallow in a little bit of filth. Steve Jobs’ desk was one with plenty of paper on it, and the shelves of his home office were heaving with books at all angles:"""

I had read somewhere that Greenspan also has messy room but I could not find the link.

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