'Going forwards' has become my pet-hate piece of news-man/corporate jargon. 'How will we encourage the economy going forwards...' 'What is the situation for the company going forwards...' Mechanistic yuk. Where is forwards anyway? Mostly we don't seem to even know which way is up. And there's another metaphor that really... Don't get me started.
And so I was encouraged by Ian Sanders' manifesto on Change This. Ian says we should 'Live the Juggle Life', that it is impossible to make a 5 year business or personal plan in the current climate (I wonder if it ever was...) and that 'juggling' offers a better way of thinking. 'When you become a Juggler, you are driven by instinct and curiosity, where your best plan is a non-plan.'
I have loved the idea of a non-plan for business. Even in this recessed and depressed, credit-crunched world I'm hoping that I will have the courage to continue not planning. The idea of improvisational strategies as a way of coping with the complex demands of modern day life and business has been around for a while. Direct similarities have been drawn with improvisational, 'unplanned' jazz improvisation and organisational strategy. Dr Frank Barrett, one of the leading thinkers and, coincidentally, a jazz pianist has written extensively on this.
My feel is that it is not for the faint-hearted. As a taster, here is an example of a Blues Bossa Nova, mistakes included, improvised by another talented pianist Doug McKenzie.
'Making up as you go along', as a model for life, requires a paradoxical sense of discipline, training and devotion. But the need to think about planning when you are in the juggling, improvisational mode falls away. Attending to what is happening now is the key; working with minimal structure, repeating good ideas, seeing errors as opportunities and, as far as possible, operating with 'no plan'. It's an image of organisation for these chaotic times as we.. erm...go forwards?