To be honest, I do like a little chaos to shake up the status quo. Some might call me another ‘Dennis the Menace!’ Most organizations are reluctant to change…even for the good. Yet, I love the idea of locating opportunities in the midst of a crisis most intriguing. One of my co-workers has a very profound saying, “Chaos equals cash flow!” Let’s explore operation chaos in today’s organizations.
Our world is in a constant state of change and chaos. In the streets of Libya, government soldiers battle for control as Moammar Gadhafi acts like a puppet master. Syrian security forces fire on helpless mourners during a funeral. In the Netherlands, a man shoots in a crowded shopping mall.
Over a quarter-million protesters in Egypt demanded that President Hosni Mubarak step down from his presidency. Egypt is the world’s largest Arab nation and is very important to U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. If these global issues go unresolved, it could further destabilize the region and endanger US interest.
America, the home of the free, is not immune from chaos either. In April, Congress worked with President Barack Obama to overt a government shutdown due to ideological differences; protesters outside of the Washington buildings screamed “Shut it down!”
President Obama came into office with dreams of political change. Now, he finds himself mired in budget negotiations, ideological differences among his own party, a financial crisis highlighted by the increasing national debt, and a growing unstable global front. The next fight is just beyond the horizon.
Chaos Theory dominates the current landscape. For the novice, chaos is defined as ‘a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.’ Many organizations operate in crisis mode. A crisis can be defined as any event or activity with the potential to negatively affect the reputation or credibility of a business; it could lead to an out of control situation (aka chaos).
Jeffrey Caponigro, author of The Crisis Counselor, explains the danger of allowing a crisis to get out of control: “Many businesses have been unable to recover from bungled crises. Plenty of high-level executives were forced to make unwanted career changes after being labeled as the one who ‘caused the crisis’ or couldn’t manage the problem.’”
No senior manager wants to admit that he or she is unprepared for change that creates this chaos. Davidson Frame, author of the New Project Management, argues that change contributes to chaos. Frame notes, “Complexity is a fact of life we cannot escape. It overwhelms us in our personal lives. It is also an aspect of the workplace.”
Daryl Conner, author of Leading at the Edge of Chaos, further highlights the current dangers for leaders: “The world is inundated with disruptions: unforeseen dangers, unanticipated opportunities, unmet expectations, alarming new statistics, startling twists of fate, shocking innovations, unheralded improvements, unrealistic requirements, overwhelming demands, contradictory directives, staggering liabilities, astonishing results, sudden strokes of luck, and more.” When these things happen while leaders are unexpected, chaos can occur.
Innovators take note of disruptive change as positive turbulence in the market. Organizations, which do not understand the importance of making sustainable growth by being more efficient, will not be successful over the long-term. Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson, authors of Radical Change, Radical Results, argues that the market rewards innovators: “The market values companies by their brain trusts, not their inventories, because a top engineer and a few peers can outperform hundreds of average engineers.”
The authors provide seven actions to transform organizations which are (1) curiosity- drop personal defenses and listen to all feedback, (2) awareness- tap into the multidimensional intelligence to make decisions, (3) authenticity-drop the roles that limit organizations and staff, (4) accountability- take responsibility for personal actions [100% Responsibility + Solid Agreements = Accountability], (5) candor- tell the truth, (6) genius- allowing individuals and organizations to fully utilize their abilities, and (7) appreciation- express gratitude. Organizations without strategic leaders and the wherewithal for survival will lose their grip on reality. They perceive the market doing one thing when in reality the market is doing something different.
Please discuss how chaos has impacted organizations in your area.
© 2011 by Daryl D. Green