Editor’s Note: Messy Brains and Global Opportunities

2000 Volume 3 Issue 4

First, we want to thank Imperial Bank, Infonet, and the tompetersCompany! for sponsoring a special print issue of the Graziadio Business Review this fall that is bringing this quarterly online journal to the attention of a nationwide audience. We are very pleased to welcome those of you who were introduced to the GBR through this print issue.





Charla Griffy-Brown, PhD





Have you ever wanted to leave a message on your voicemail that said, “I’m out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message…?” Maybe it is just me, but when I look at the information-bloated, globally-connected world around me my mind becomes easily cluttered and very messy.

Mathematicians who specialize in sorting out messiness tell us in complexity theory that we can categorize the business madness around us into “organized oscillations” such as growth and recession, stagnation, cyclical behavior and unpredictable erratic fluctuations. This validates my inherent mistrust of men in labcoats with long equations. The first categories seem truly ordered but then there is the catch-all last category ‘erratic and unpredictable fluctuations’. It seems a bit dodgy to talk about ‘organized oscillations’ and then create a miscellaneous category that everything nonsensical can fall into and is neither orderly or oscillating in any predictable way.

Recent work in business and chaos theory certainly indicates that mastering complex often-chaotic systems is critical for maximizing global business opportunities (Simple Yet Complex Business Management) (editor’s note: link no longer accessible). So, somehow elucidating the final category may be the most important one of all. Perhaps James Marti is right when he speculates that in contemporary business, “Chaos might be the new world order.”

To attack the maelstrom of chaotic systems that collide daily in our offices, this issue of the Graziadio Business Review provides both practical insight and tools. First, there are a plethora of new features at the GBR to arm you and your friends against the encroaching pandemonium. Try our new search feature to get directly to the topic you want, even in archived issues.

Check out the E-BIZ@GBR section to keep updated on new databases, sites and news in the e-business area. Also, use our new article-forwarding feature to send the URL of any article to a friend or colleague. Most importantly don’t forget to subscribe to the GBR so you can be notified when new issues are online.

Finally, in this issue, our warriors against chaos once again journey into the commotion and turbulence of today’s business practice to help lead us through the fray. For example, nothing could be more complex than trying to create wealth in the midst of this maelstrom. Richard Powell helps us navigate the dynamic and organized oscillations of investments by showing us how to maximize them using tax planning opportunities. He shows us how effectively using tax planning vehicles can mean the difference between an ordered comfortable retirement and bedlam.

William Larson leads us through the pandemonium that can result from employers disengaging themselves from public discussion. In this article, we take a look at the ADA and its direct impact on business practice today. He warns that businesses in the US today must carefully consider recent court rulings or risk being sucked into a turbulent and even more unpredictable future.

Scott Sherman leads us right into the heart of darkness with his article on planning in a complex world. In this intriguing piece, linking business practice, Easter, and tying one’s shoelaces, we learn about the role of tacit knowledge in strategically utilizing complex systems while operating in the realm of turbulence and complexity.

Darrol Stanley brings order to the chaos of Wall Street versus Main Street. This article explains how and why the SEC came to its recent ruling on fair disclosure, and what this means for investors.

No fight against disorder would be complete unless we deal with the ultimate anarchist tool: the Internet. Mike Hamlin teaches us how to use Internet portals to manage the information deluge. He introduces a model called COPE to assist in choosing the portal that fits your chaos-management needs.

Finally, we come to the cosmic disarray inherent in the growth of small firms. Owen Hall and Mike Davis report on their recent survey of small U.S. firms that suggests continued growth despite shortfalls in traditional financing and skilled labor.

Be sure to pick up some useful knowledge management tools in the Arcade and don’t forget to visit our psychedelic fractal-focused wonderland called The LOOP. Also, try out some of our interactive features such as the Quiz and the Poll to make sure you are prepared to battle the bedlam outside and inside your office.

Remember, if your colleagues ask you what you are doing, you are now well armed to explain that you are in mortal combat with the forces of chaos. Furthermore, remind them that, according to complexity theory, a messy brain is more open to global opportunities.

About the Author(s)

Charla Griffy-Brown, PhD, is an associate professor of information systems at the Graziadio School of Business and Management. In 2004, Dr. Griffy-Brown received a research award from the International Association for the Management of Technology and was recognized as one of the most active and prolific researchers in the fields of technology management and innovation. A former researcher at the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development in Tokyo, she has also served as an associate professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Dr. Griffy-Brown graduated from Harvard University, is a former Fulbright Scholar, and holds a PhD in technology management from Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. She has worked for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center and has taught innovation/technology management courses in Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan. She has also served as a consultant for the United Nation's Global Environmental Facility and the European Commission.

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