Chaos is New Normal in Business– Managing Edge of Chaos: Survive, Grow in a Chaotic World…

Chaos is when something has gone terribly wrong, at least that the classical definition; its disorder,  disarray,  disorganization,  mayhem, bedlam, confusion, pandemonium, disruption, upheaval… but then there is the constructive or controlled form of chaos… and that is when things might look out of control but they are, in fact, moving forward to some desired outcome… Clearly chaos means different things to different people both in definition, as well in dynamics of a situation…

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Some leaders suggest that a messy desk is indicative of a chaotic  unorganized mind… Chaos in one simple definition, is the opposite of order or at least, doesn’t show any obvious signs of any order or structure. For some leader’s it’s simply an– issue, event, situation… which is not being managed… But not all chaos are necessarily bad… and not all chaos is necessarily about being manageable…

Sometimes leaders confuse out-of-the-box thinking with chaos and disorganization… whereas it could very well be a manifestation of creativity and opportunity to create change. Identifying difference between an opportunity to change and negative chaos is not always an easy thing to do… But leaders must always be vigilant about chaos in an organization… They cannot be afraid of chaos; they must prepare for it and deal with it; they must recognize it for what it really is– it’s an opportunity to improve…

In the article Organizational Chaos by Karen Martin writes: Chaos can be both ‘constructive’ and ‘destructive’ within an organization… For many organization chaos is constructive– it ‘energizes’ and drives change, it stimulates innovation, reduces complacency, spurs teams to achieve new heights… in fact chaos is by design– it an organization’s business model.. its how things get done, and it’s not even recognize as chaos… many organizations embraced chaos as a ‘good thing’, and even job descriptions might include; ‘tolerance for ambiguity’ as a necessary skill…

On other hand, there is destructive chaos which is the undesirable type of chaos– it’s self-inflicted and it ignites disorder and confusion in an organization… It’s chaos that robs organizations of the its energy,  that’s needed to innovate and respond to marketplace’s ever-increasing demands for– faster, better, cheaper…  Left unchecked, a ‘bad’ brand of chaos destroys everything that’s good in organizations; products, people, innovation…

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In the article Chaos, Combat, Disruption by ewblog writes: Chaos is the ‘new normal’ in business… and leaders are borrowing military terminology to define a business landscape akin to battle. It’s ‘VUCA’ (Volatile: Uncertain: Complex: Ambiguous.) world. Research suggests; that ‘less than two thirds’ of leaders are ‘highly’ or ‘very confident’ in their ability to manage the VUCA challenges.

The research shows that the rate of leaders that are ‘unprepared’ to manage challenges are; ‘Volatility’ is about (40%), of ‘Uncertainty’ (32%), of ‘Complexity’ (36%), of ‘Ambiguity’ (31%)… At best only 18% identified their leaders as ‘very capable’ to manage a disruptive environment… Furthermore, organizations in top fifth of financial performers were three times more likely to have VUCA capable leaders, than those in the bottom 20%…

Also, fighting business battles need not be negative, there are many organizations that thrive in disruption. According to Bob Johansen; suggest putting a spin on the VUCA scenario… and proposing change in focus, e.g.; ‘Volatility is Vision’, ‘Uncertainty is Understand’, ‘Complexity is Clarity’, ‘Ambiguity is  Agility’… According to Keith Weed; two-and-half billion more people will be added to planet between now and 2050. The digital revolution and shift in consumer spending… all suggests that organization must reinvent the way they do business in this chaotic environment…

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In the article Some Leaders Thrive on Endless Chaos by Brent Misso writes: In some work environments its perpetual random motion– endless, mindless action, tail-chasing chaotic activities… while at the same time– leaders are constantly nitpicking, micro-managing, and that makes a chaotic event even worse… This type of environment easily leads to vicious cycle of the ‘fire drill’ mentality… there are constant fire drills… and if not real, then they are invented…

At its most extreme, such a firefighting mentality beats-up the work force to the point where employees simply wear-out, tune-out, and eventually drop-out. The world is full of leaders who are actual chaos ‘junkies’, and they spread bad habits to others wherever they go. True leadership is about having a clear, concise vision for what must be accomplished. The idea of organization existing in ‘controlled’ chaos is nonsense…

In the article New Normal Requires New Mindset by David Rhodes writes: Managing in a chaotic and uncertain environment is a true test executive leadership… Most leaders are acutely aware of the increased pressure that comes with a chaotic and highly disruptive business environment… It’s often said that we must learn from past mistakes so we don’t repeat them… But less said and equally valid, is that we must also learn from past successes. A few lessons learned:

  • Go on offensive: Invest in success. When times are tough that the best time to go on offensive… Instead of cutting back, accelerate development of relevant new growth initiatives…
  • Focus on customers:  Invest on customers. When times are tough focus on customers and take advantage of changing attitudes and behaviors…
  • Don’t go it alone: Invest in future. When times are tough develop and engage strategic relationships, partners, suppliers, even competitors…
  • Employ game-changing strategies. Invest in different. Embrace different business models and reinvent the business…
  • Be a leader: Leaders set clear expectations. Great leaders track progress rigorously against metrics and milestones… intervene when necessary, communicate any changes in direction. Leaders celebrate success and recognize team members who achieve the best results…
  • Invest in people: Manage attrition of less-performing employees to ensure career opportunities for most-talented… Innovative new ways for compensation, advancement… but also issues, such as; work-life balance, changing demographics…

To win in the ‘new normal’ of a chaotic business environment it calls for fresh thinking, smart adaptation, focus on relentless execution, solid performance… The new normal also calls for reinforcement of the cardinal virtues of– honesty, integrity, authenticity… According to  Roger McNamee; new normal is a time of solid opportunity, when leaders must know how to play the game… The business landscape has fundamentally changed… leaders must wrestle with chaotic forces, both within and outside of their control…

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According to James Schug; leaders must face the chaotic forces of the new normal that include; excessive business regulations, out of control EEOC enforcement, insane health insurance changes, global competitive markets, disruptive technology… However, great companies recognize great opportunities in a chaotic, volatile environment… Uncertainty, lack of clarity can be an impediment, but great organizations regularly deconstruct the chaos around them. Chaos is inevitable and managing it is essential, but if you don’t others will…