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Humour is a powerful narrative approach

Posted by  Andrew Rixon —December 8, 2005
Filed in Fun

Having a read through complex knowledge I came across this interesting quote:

“As Koestler has shown, humour is built on ‘bisociation’ – the ability to mentally and emotionally to traverse both paths of a bifurcating line of thought, the recognition of which provokes laughter. Bisociation through humour permitted the managers a more complex view of their organisation, it offered a both/and rather than an either/or orientation to the contradictions of managing and organising”.

Now you probably also know that we love reading Scott Adams’ blog. Anyway, Scott Adams recently posted a humour formula. He suggested that to be funny you need at least 2 of 6 elements, and to be reaaallly funny, you need up from 4 – 6 of these elements. Then you’re really humming. The elements are: Cute, Clever, Cruel, Naughty, Bizaare and Recognisable.

What do these two have in common? I adapted the figure below, drawn from chaos and complexity theory to give some insight…

Bifurcation humour

The figure shows 3 key zones -“boring”, “getting a few laughs” and “this is seriously funny!”. Reflecting, I think, some elements from both Scott Adams humour formula along with bifurcation and bisociation.

The important thing is that getting multiple views of a situation can not only be fun but it can help to reveal insights into problematic situations. Jokes and humour form a natural narrative for managers and organisations. I guess again I’m saying to deal with complexity keep it simple and make it fun! 

About  Andrew Rixon

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