Across the ages, innovation has been the key to unlocking economic progress that has transformed our world and lifted billions out of poverty. But the messiness of bottom-up innovation today can induce anxiety in many people.
As Neil Chilson, Senior Research Fellow for Technology and Innovation at Stand Together observes in his new book, Getting Out of Control: Emergent Leadership in a Complex World, people are worried that the world is growing too complex to be under anyone’s control. Faced with this complexity, society has grown obsessed with asserting control.
Chilson writes: “CEOs want to control their companies; politicians and policymakers want to control the economy. Recently, everyone is trying to figure out what to do to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. We want control because as humans, we have a limited ability to comprehend complexity.”
As history has shown, the key to progress is not through top-down control, but rather an embrace of bottom-up innovation; or, as Chilson puts it, emergent order – order with no single individual or entity in control.
In his new book, Chilson demonstrates how people should embrace innovation as the preferred path to take on society’s biggest challenges, giving them the potential to address problems like the cost of living, upward economic mobility, environmental stewardship, health care, and social progress.
This book offers new perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of governance in an age of complexity. Readers will learn to understand why so often we fail to improve ourselves, and how to adapt to and learn from failure. In this complex world, our hope as leaders lies not in gaining control, but in influencing the order that emerges when we choose to let go of control.
Entrepreneur Magazine recently published an article from Chilson based on the principles found in Getting Out of Control, in which Chilson outlines “3 Ways that Chaos Can Help You Break Bad Habits.” Read the full article here.