As millions of football fans are occupied with the UEFA EURO 2016 and Copa América, to me, these events are also a great reminder of how football captures the essence of unique personalities coming together to work towards a common goal.

Individuals need to collaborate in order to get results as a team, both on and off the field. What’s highlighted in the office, especially, is the importance of respecting others and giving them space to work in their creative zones.

Chaos is good

On the football field, some players defy rules, break down order, and cause chaos . While I don’t encourage anyone to wreak havoc at work, we all know the colleague whose desk is a mess, who storms in and out of meetings, leaving others wondering what just happened. But they always end up having incredible ideas. Just like game changers, they draw energy from chaos.

Always destroying defenses, always fast, Gareth Bale embodies chaos on the football field. ©Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

When I look back on my time in a previous job, my closest colleague had what I can only call a chaotic approach to problem solving. Along the way, we developed a great rhythm in feeding off of each other’s energy. Admittedly, a touch of telepathy might have been involved.

Even though your teammate’s approach might seem like pure chaos, it’s good to remember that there’s always order in apparent randomness. This is why we’re so fascinated with the creative process and dissecting it into phases.

The chaotic folk know exactly what they’re doing – just like in football – so it’s essential to give them the space they need to create. And it goes both ways.

Get your control freak on

Other players are born to control and set the pace of the game . In business, these are the cool-headed creators who bring order among chaos. Their approach is – or appears to be – more systematic.  They’re the playmakers.

Don’t let his power, control, and accuracy fool you – Paul Pogba is all about expressing himself on and off the pitch. ©Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

I’m the first to admit that I require plenty of thinking time to first thoroughly understand the problem, and second, to organize my thoughts and let them brew before tackling a creative task. I also need my desk to be in order for my mind to be in order.

Controlled creativity doesn’t necessarily rule out teamwork or different viewpoints. Quite the contrary: both are vital raw material for creative work in any zone.

Agility is a necessity

Despite seemingly contradictory personalities, everyone in a football team follows a strategy and reacts to other players’ moves. In the office, we are complex creatures with multi-faceted personalities, but in the end, opposites attract and the results can be great.

Whatever your zone, chaos and control coexist everywhere, all the time. We all need to conjure cohesion from chaos at times, which is why agility comes in handy. Sure, we can’t all be like Lionel Messi  with his unparalleled speed and agility, but those traits might arise in the most surprising of situations. Sometimes you just have to wing it.

What zone do you create best in? I’d love to hear if the order of the day in your office is chaos or control.


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by Margaret Raabe 14.06.2016
I am definitely more of a controlled creator than a chaotic one. With an engineering background my mind works best systematically with a game plan for approaching a project or a problem. A clean work space makes such a difference!
Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor Margaret Raabe 17.06.2016
Hi Margaret,

thanks for your comment. So interesting to hear about your personal creativity style :)
Did you read the story "Planning frees up the playmaker in you"? Pretty sure you will like it since it deals with structure and creativity.

Let me know if you've liked it or not :)