formulaic change

Any change in the arts should be people and culture centric. New, and not a 'formula fiddling' exercise, applied generically across the arts, with the taste of traditionalism in our mouths. When systems repeatedly fail, and change becomes apparently and often desperately needed, people often like to fiddle with a formula.


It's already been often proven not to work. Still, people persist out of comfort and sometimes no matter what new option, premise or bias you start with unless you change the 'formula' root and branch we're always going to get to the same point again eventually.

You can show this with a simple mathematical game:

To start with take a number and a set formula (3n+1)


The rules are: if it's an even number halve it, if it's odd number apply the formula.


Here we go:
Substituting the number (n) in the formula with 5 leads us to 16 8 4 2 1 4 2 1 etc.

The number 7 leads us to 22 11 34 17 52 26 13 40 20 10 5 16 8 4 2 1 4 2 1 etc.

and the number 17 leads to 52 26 13 40 20 10 5 16 8 4 2 1 4 2 1  etc.

We always get back to the same old thing 4 2 1 repeating

So no matter what number you start with as you work through applying this formula you will always end with the same repeating sequence, tortuously so in some cases even though we invest a large amount of time getting there we get nothing new. We think we've done something new by choosing a different number or starting point or premise but often just doing this, a slightly different route to a 'change' using the same formula will fail.

When you ask for change and start digging, we find the formula is often '..., but this is the way we've always done it'.

People mistakenly see switching the number they start from or fiddling with the premise many times, each of which may represent a different configured 'option' as the new 'agent of change' but do not see they need a new formula. For realistic, meaningful change to happen there has to be a total holistic change in the mindsets we apply and to achieve systemic change we need to scrap the formula's we've always used. Even better still don't apply a formula at all. Just do it.


Jon Adams, Flow Observatorium 2020