Self-Organising Systems

The human brain is an information system that is self-organising, self-selective, self-maximising, pattern-making and pattern-using.

"...A self-organizing system is a system with a life of its own. What it does, it does without outside intervention....Selection is a natural function of the system, and the system decides the flow..."

Piers Dudgeon, 2001

A self-organising system is one which allows incoming information to organise itself into routine patterns. The brain is wired to be most effective when it makes its own connections and patterns. These patterns form the basis for perception, and are relative to culture and time. These patterns can become the root cause of countless superstitions, biases, prejudices and strategic errors. In other words, the self-organising brain is designed to work against creativity!!!!!!!

When we look at something familiar, we instantly recognise it instead of having to work it out afresh every time - such as getting dressed in the morning (with 11 pieces of clothing to choose from, there are around 40 million possible ways of getting dressed or if you tried a new way of dressing every waking minute, you would be around 76 years old when you tried the last option).

Routines simplify life in regard to perception and action. It is true that we can get trapped in routines and need creative thinking to get us out of the rut.

Remember: facts do not change but people's perceptions of them differ. Furthermore, our perceptions become our reality

Most of the mistakes in thinking are not mistakes of logic but mistakes of perception.

"...Errors of logic are rare; most errors in our thinking are errors of perception..."

Edward deBono as quoted by Piers Dudgeon, 2001

Once it is understood that perception is based on the behaviour of the neural networks of the brain as a self-organising information system, tools and techniques can be used to facilitate and encourage creative thinking.

An invaluable creative idea is logical in hindsight. As a result, it is often assumed that we could have reached the idea by logic rather than by creativity. This misconception is based on the notion of a passive information system. But the brain is a self-organising, active information system and asymmetrical patterns are formed. This means that the route from A to B maybe roundabout but the route from B to A could be direct. This is the basis for both humour and creativity.


"'s natural inclination is to cling to his beliefs, particularly if they are reinforced by recent experience..."

Warren Buffett, 2001

Apparently, Charles Darwin used to say that whenever he found something that contradicted a conclusion he favoured, he was obliged to write the new finding down within 30 minutes. Otherwise his mind would work to reject the discordant information, much as the body rejects transplants

Linked with this is a concept of latent inhibition; the ability to filter out irrelevant stimuli. For example, while reading a book walking down the street and holding a conversation; or sleeping a noisy room. It is suggested that this may hold back our creativity.

"...Creative people are less able to filter out irrelevant thoughts, permitting them to make more creative associations......Lowering your filtering threshold to allow the mind to wander may permit information to pour in obliquely, facilitating extraordinary associations..."

Mark Lythgoe, 2005

Edward deBono goes further, when he claims

"...reading other people's ideas encourages firm acceptance or violent rejection, either of which inhibits the formation of original ideas..."

Edward deBono as quoted by Piers Dudgeon, 2001

Most conventional thinking is like water in a river. It finds the path of least resistance. Creative thinking involves finding a different path.

Traditionally managers are promoted after excelling at a range of junior roles that revolve around keeping everything moving along smoothly. They are adept at achieving continuity but not necessarily creativity. However, once at a senior level these former junior managers are supposed to be strategic and creative. In other words,

" order to reach a senior position you probably have to be without those talents you need when you get there....... you have not had to demonstrate creativity to get there..."

Edward deBono as quoted by Catherine Fox, 2004

Remember that being different does not necessarily mean being creative


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