Perfection Kills Co-Creation

James Walpole/ January 7, 2019

I am generally a clean, organized person. But even I can tell when something is over-organized.

You can get the feeling of sterility and regimentation from a too-perfect space. The glass is immaculate, the paper is custom-made, the feng-shui has taken 20,000 years to balance.

Worst of all, you get the feeling of “off limits – don’t touch.”

This is quite alright if you’re living alone. But if you care about engaging the creativity of other human beings (i.e. sharing a common area in an apartment or creating space for “co-creating” in a place like an office), too much order can become a bad thing.

There’s a certain amount of messiness, disorder, chaos that is inviting to human beings. It’s inviting because we see a messy situation and realize we can participate despite being messy ourselves. It’s inviting also because we believe we can bring some order and beauty of our own.

Co-created spaces tend to have hacked-together beauty – homemade decorations in a home, or doodle and note-covered walls in an office. Anyone who stumbles into a space like this – where some imperfection is going to be tolerated – is going to be much more likely to engage in creativity herself.

If I were to do some theological speculation, maybe this is why Being is limited. As others wiser than me have noted*, there would be nothing to do in such a world. But even if there were things to do in a perfect Eden situation, the near-perfection would probably kill human creativity in the cradle.

Thank God we live in an imperfect world. It’s a precondition for co-creation.

Leave a bit of imperfection (find what you can tolerate) in your home and office if you want to encourage co-creation around you as well. That, in the end, is better than perfection*.

Photo by paul mocan on Unsplash

*Intellectual Influences: Must give credit for the idea of “better than perfection” to the writer Amy Julia Becker, who expressed something like this recently on the Typology podcast. Credit to Tim Harford, whose ideas on messiness and creativity came to me through podcast form. Also, credit to the Jewish scholars who first postulated the first note about the necessity of limitation, and Jordan Peterson for making me aware.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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