Tim Harford’s Messy is an exploration of how the highly valued human qualities; creativity, collaboration and resilience can all benefit from a little bit of mess. By embracing the by-products of disorder and confusion we can grow, develop and flourish.
Each chapter outlines a specific topic that can benefit from a little bit of mess; perhaps by creating a new path which leads to improved outcomes. He provides concrete examples to back up his theory, he identifies what the mess disguises itself as ( no, its not always just the pile of washing on the chair in the corner of the bedroom. . . . ) and how it could help in our everyday lives. Harford also includes scientific research from fields as diverse as the neurosciences, psychology, anthropology and social sciences to back up his claims.
One example really stood out to me; Imagine that you live in London and catch the same train at the same platform at the same time every day to get you to work. Then imagine that a strike closes 171 out of the Tubes 270 stations – This happened in 2014 and 1 in 20 of those who developed a new route out of the mess that situation created continued to use that route; it was either cheaper, faster or in some way preferable to their old route. All they needed was a little bit of mess to seek out something better.
Harford’s writing is academic but not overtly so, it is easily read and not at all difficult to understand. His message is powerful and will find you searching for examples of mess in your own life; he proposes an counter-intuitive idea that our mess can contribute to our success.
Now get out there and get messy!