This is the vision of The Critical Incident, a live document of Rational Madness. A first issue. Which suggests a second. If we published the third straight after the first, well that would be a bit mad. But it would also be different. Unless someone had done it before, in which case it would be the same.
So, how about publishing the second one after the first, but only after having considered the third after the first, and rejecting it? Now, that would be different. And though it might not appear to be mad, the decision process would certainly have madness in it. Yet it seems to me that running through all of this madness, so far, is some kind of rationality.
Is there method in this madness? “More like madness in the method?” I hear you say. Well, I don't hear you say it, I imagine you have said it, even if you haven't, which is mad. Yet imagining it has helped to move my thinking on and to rationally reflect on the madness of it. I am sitting atop an organisation which is as mad as a hatter, yet which manages to rationally produce a range of products of great complexity. We regularly blow each other up in the name of civilisation.
Yesterday I flew from Belfast to London in under an hour. It then took the same amount of time to get from the airplane to the exit of the airport. My best friends’ best friends are pets and some of the cleverest human friends I have, who have PhD's and degrees of all kinds, fill their lungs with cancer causing substances. My dog is unimpressed. The answer to the problems of engineering lie at the door of philosophy. Yet people still buy dripping teapots. Why? There are too many innocent people in jail, too many dangerous criminals walking the streets.
The goals of a bureaucratic organisation are these:
1. Keeping the system running
2. Keeping the system running that keeps the system running
3. Keeping the system running for checking the system is running that keeps the system running
The Critical Incident is an event that welcomes contradiction. It believes in approaching reality from different points of view, from different disciplinary standpoints. It seeks the helicopter view of the helicopter view whilst equally valuing the view from the flea or the worm. Apparently contradictory viewpoints often resolve themselves from a different viewpoint or level of understanding. Art and Industry, science and religion, comedy and seriousness, physics and philosophy. The aim: innovation. The application of varying degrees of rationality and craziness to the improvement of our lot. With, of course, a healthy suspicion of even THAT goal. Emergence AND convergence. Chaos AND law. Coffee AND tea. Eric AND Ernie. We want to share ideas and practice, in the hope that the tedious anticlimax of our age can have a bit of practical fun injected into it.
Whoopee cushions and mandalas. Personal transformation and punch lines. Tragedy and comedy. Movement and stillness. Little and Large. The event invites contributions from all angles, from all viewpoints. Our playground is the world of people and organisations.
We work as facilitators who try to make it harder before it gets easier. We work as consultants who bring peace with feathers and with kazoos.
We use flip charts and trumpets, web sites and scones; we use innovation and workshops alongside visual arts, pantomime and juggling. We work with laser welders as well as dancers, local councils and local heroes.
We teach and we tickle, we challenge and we comfort. This event is the melting pot of innovation and change, of the art of revolution, and the science of calm.