The other day, when I went to use the soap, it looked weird. It was in one of those little hand-pump containers and it looked like two substances mixed together.
It turns out, my 7 year old had dumped some of my hair conditioner into my hand soap as an experiment. It brought to mind the law of requisite variety and the qualities of genius.
What Is Genius?
One of the definitions of genius is someone who connects up things that people don’t usually connect. Many useful inventions are inspired by taking something out of its usual context and putting it in another.
I’m thinking of George de Mestral who found some burrs stuck in the fabric of his pants after a walk outside. When he looked closely, he saw little hooks from the burrs caught in loops in the fabric. He used that concept to create Velcro® fasteners for clothing–and in the process, make life easier for those who have trouble with buttons.
That’s “thinking outside the box.” What about acting outside the box?
The Law Of Requisite Variety
The law of requisite variety is a principle borrowed from cybernetics. Basically, it says that, all other things being equal in a system, the element of that system that has the most states will be the controlling element in the system.
What does that mean?
It means flexibility rules.
When applied to behavior is means, if you want to get responses out of people (and that’s what we do with NLP & hypnosis), you’d better have a wide range of states and behaviors you can produce. It’s a presupposition, a basic concept in NLP. In other words, as a therapist, if you think you have to act, look or talk a certain way in order to be “therapist-like,” you might be in trouble. There are some times you might have to act outside of your normal range in order to reach people.
Dr. Pepper & Lemonade
So, I was thinking about all this when I was trying to decide what to drink today. Although I don’t usually drink pop, I was vacillating between Dr. Pepper and Lemonade. “What the heck,” I thought. I mixed them both together. It was better than I thought it would be! Next time, I’ll change the ratio–I think I’ll like it with more lemonade.
My boy’s soap/conditioner experiment worked out OK too.
It cleans–and conditions.