Chaos is a Friend of Mine

Money TunnelThe quote in the above title, is by the singer-songwriter, Bob Dylan. Chaos can be a friend in business as well. OK, when your head stops spinning, continue reading. CEOs start businesses because they are good at something. They think they can do something better than others. Or, they see a need in the market and fill that need. The point is that there are a myriad of reasons people start their own business. However, a new business is a world of struggle.

A new business struggles to define roles, identify a target audience, refine and sometimes reinvent products and services. These are the very causes of chaos. Other causes of chaos are gossip, lack of teamwork, selfish agendas, a lack of establishing expectations and failure to manage expectations that have been established. The same chaos can occur in established organizations as well. Moving from one stage of growth to the next is another major contributor to chaos. Here are two specific times this occurs.

One of these times, is when a company can no longer hold onto outdated methodologies and has to embrace new ones that do work. It’s human nature to want things to remain the same. Therefore, change, in and of itself produces chaos. Couple this with the learning curve of trying to implement new systems and process and this can increase the level of chaos and frustration. We call this transition a Wind Tunnel The other transition is when levels of activity increase. These higher levels of activity occur when more people, process or more customers are added to the business mix. In short, employees feel as if they are drowning. We dub this transition A Flood Zone. During a Wind Tunnel or A Flood Zone are exactly the times a CEO needs to embrace chaos.

The embracing of chaos begins with leadership having a good understanding of the organization’s problems as well as understanding how the organization’s offerings solve problems for its customers.

A leader can’t ignore chaos. Chaos can show up disguised as many things. For example, a leader can suffer from burnout. Burnout can occur for a number of reasons. One of these is a company that, early on in its formation, becomes stuck in clinging to the idea that there is only one way to set up a product or service. Another reason is that a CEO may assume what prospects want. These ideas cause the leader to lose traction early on, waste a lot of money, time and energy and burnout contributes to not only chaos but also the downfall of the company.

Therefore, a leader needs to be willing to accept, embrace and work through chaos. In addition, leadership should teach staff how to allow for mistakes in order to learn, teach staff how to handle conflict and teach the rewards that come with solving customer’s problems. Learning these lessons early on, ensures that chaos occurs less frequently and with less intensity. Once having made chaos a friend, the organization can then move forward and growth can continue with fewer visits from Bob Dylan’s friend, chaos.