Monday-Morning-Memo-Logo1By Roy H. Williams

You hope to attract and hold the attention of another. Your goal is to fascinate their mind. You are a teacher, a minister, a romantic suitor or possibly an advertiser. Is there a successful model for attracting and holding human attention that you can study? Indeed there is.

Humans are attracted by ocean waves, clouds, mountains, lightning, and logs burning in the fireplace, and we think that snowflakes are beautiful. We detect an elegant order in each of these that our minds cannot fully grasp. This marvelous order is known to science as Chaos, and it is beyond the ability of the mind to predict. (Predictability, you will recall, is the mortal enemy of persuasion because predictability triggers boredom. Remember Broca? Hmm... this could be useful.)

Using Business Problem Topology, let’s begin by looking at the defining characteristics of Chaotic systems:

1. Chaotic systems are deterministic; they have something determining their behavior.

2. Chaotic systems are very sensitive to their initial conditions. A very slight change in the starting point can lead to enormously different outcomes.

3. Chaotic systems may appear to be disorderly, even random, but they are not. Beneath the random behavior is a pattern of elegant order. Truly random systems are not chaotic.

If you consider that mapping a chaotic system can easily require tens of millions of notations, you can easily see why it was only after we had invented computers that we were able to see these patterns that had previously been too big to comprehend.

Using chaotic mathematical equations, computers today are producing images that look exactly like the beauty we see in nature. Amazingly, these chaotic maps also seem to mirror the behavior of the stock exchange and population fluctuations and chemical reactions. We call such Chaotic maps “fractals.” Examples of natural fractals are clouds, coastlines, lightning and mountains.

Benoit Mandelbrot, a scientist at IBM, created additional fractal images by mapping the variations in:

1. stock market prices,

2. the probabilities of words in English, and

3. the motion of turbulent fluids,

...because each of these has a pattern that is slightly beyond our human ability to predict.

Are you now beginning to understand why people are drawn to:

1. playing the stock market,

2. listening to the combination of rhythm and words in poetry and song, and

3. staring at the sea?