Is the abundance of choice a potential barrier to starting a business or developing an idea?

Gillian Harwood, Managing Director of Busworks business hub and other creative spaces, mentioned abundance of choice as we discussed her upcoming guest blog post, Creating A Successful Hub.  We mulled on whether the barriers presented in earlier decades, particularly for women, brought about creative solutions, whereas now choice is a distraction.

Could the increase in the amount of choice available in the West, in part, be the cause of disenchantment felt by many, particularly working class males?

In the excellent study, The Tenuous Attachments of Working-Class Men, American scientists have termed ‘Haphazard Self’ to describe men no longer rooted to a job, religion, community or partner.   “These men’s desire for autonomy in jobs seems rooted in their rejection of the monotony and limited autonomy that their fathers and grandfathers experienced in the workplace“.  Instead, most of the interviewees spoke of a need for ‘creativity and self-expression’ and pivoting this to create a business.  “This is reflected in the entrepreneurial nature of many of the side bets, [ meaning side jobs ranging from petty drug dealing to cash-in-hand plumbing] and the emphasis on the creative and performing arts.”  (Edin, et al 2019)

Founder of Metadesigners, Professor Emeritus John Wood, Goldsmiths, University of London, promotes Intrinsic Abundance, ‘making new things from a combination of old ones is better than using up new resources.’

Thinking about this in relation to developing the new Innovation Hub and creating a Haphazard Index (Hi): Is it possible to come up with a programme for the hub combining existing skills and experiences with new technologies and innovations to enfranchise individuals who presently feel trapped, excluded or lost?

John M

Other posts linked to this article, Haphazard Life Plan, considering if the pressure to plan leads some into mental health issues and Haphazard Routine, discussing difference between Routine and more Chaotic approach.

Image: Visualising relations as polygons | Metadesigners.org

Edin, Kathryn, Timothy Nelson, Andrew Cherlin, and Robert Francis. 2019. “The Tenuous Attachments of Working-Class Men.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 33 (2): 211-28. Online 19 April 2019 {https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.33.2.211}

Wood, John. 2019, “Intrinsic Abundance”, Metadesigners.org, Online {https://metadesigners.org/Intrinsic-Abundance-Glossary}


  1. Reply

    Great. I like the ‘Haphazard Index’ idea.
    Maybe it could evolve further using other factors inspired by evolution etc.
    E.g. Apoptosis in damaged cells that fail to get thumbs-up signals from other cells? (probably too ambitious…;-)
    Natural selection of auspicious combinations (requisite variety=Ashby, 1956)

    1. Thanks John for positive comment. Karl Richter comment on the Haphazard Index (Hi) blog post also makes a similar observation in comparing different scenarios to understand how to develop a balancing measure, “Eg two groups pitted against each other in unpredictable scenarios (one that has high Hi and the other a low Hi)…” The focus on combination (or collaboration) as laid out in your Tool No2 Tool – Working Styles could be a good starting point on designing the Hi – gathering together different elements, as one would gather ingredients to bake a perfect loaf.
      John M

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