Steve Chapman

Steve is fascinated by human beings, how they interact, fall out, make up, change and create stuff together.

He has worked with a wide variety of clients in a broad range of sectors helping them through times of change and aiding them to develop their own creative and innovative spirit. He is a regular speaker on change and creativity and writes a popular blog on the subject. He is the author of Can Scorpions Smoke: Creative Adventures in the Corporate World an acclaimed book on personal and corporate creativity.


Say “yes” to the mess: transformation lessons from Gestalt psychology, improvised theatre and Ethiopian road junctions

Organisations fear the things that transform them. But these things are the very source of transformation and of creativity. We need to explore uncertainty.

Uncertainty is the source of innovation, change and transformation.


The biggest challenge to transformation is ‘thingification’. You can manipulate and control things, subdivide them and do lots of things with them.
An organisation is not ‘a thing’. You can’t pick it up and move it around. It’s a living breathing web of humans interacting. Transformation is often seen as a journey from A to B. But organisations are a complex human process that is responsive. We are organising, not an organisation. This has big implications for transformation. We might be in charge, but we’re not in control.

Simple vs. complicated vs. complex

Complexity is about having the intent to adapt to any problem. It’s about adjusting and being adjusted by others.

People have a compulsion to have order and control. But if we let go of control, we can adapt together. Intent and adaptation is the thing that drives change. But in organisations, adaptation is the thing that is missing.

We like certainty in organisations, but things become highly predictable and stuck. The reaction to this is to become unsafe and uncertain, but we don’t want to go there. The sweet spot between the two is safe uncertainty.

Here are some creative practices that will help you towards that sweet spot.

Creative practices

– Be curious about your need to not be perceived as mad, bad or wrong
– Be obvious and be altered. The experiences that you think are obvious are interesting to others.
– Fail happy. Innovation and creativity comes from the fear of failure in social anxiety.
– Embody it.
– Make others look good.
– Say YES to the mess. Encounter instability and fluctuations and treat them as a sign you’re on to something special.

The very things that we try to avoid when we approach transformation are great sources are innovation themselves.

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