7 Tips for successful coping with organizational chaos (revised)

Organizational life moves faster and faster, propelled by information technology and fluctuations in the market place.

Organizational structure, roles, responsibilities, missions and goals have limited impact in creating stability; de facto more often than not, organizations hover between the threshold of chaos and deep chaos.

Clients (and consultants whom I supervise) often consult with me about what can be done at the organizational “architectural” level to ensure effective functioning in the “threshold of chaos mode”.

Threshold of chaos is the area that exists between superimposed unreal man made stability (eg, our mission, charter) and the ugly reality (e.g., the need to make a commitment to win a tender, then immediately break the same commitment once we define what is “doable”)

Here are some of the cornerstones for successful coping strategies  for life on the “threshold of chaos”.

1) Ensure that staff has an end to end understanding of how things work, to prevent staff from optimization of sub systems. (“I don’t care how they DO it, I sold it)

2) Overinvest in the infrastructure of trust and strong personal relationships which serve as “credit” for enabling frequent change.

3) Loosen up rigidity by emphasizing the importance of overlapping roles and responsibilities augmented by ongoing dialogue and communication.

4) Hire people who know how to learn.

5) Deal with poor teamwork immediately upon the very first sign of dysfunction and never accept team clusterfucks as inevitable. (50 emails to get one purchase order ok’ed)

6) Be real! Deemphasize the “religious” doctrinal nature  of mission statements and other organisational artefacts which breed cynicism and contempt.

7) Focus training, consulting and coaching on enhancing staffs’ capability to function in ambiguity, which should be a major leitmotif of services provided to ensure strengthen people and teams.

Too many consultants swim against the current, trying to stabilize the inevitable chaos, after change is managed! (which it is not) 

Leverage the major critical difference between Change Management and OD. That being-Swimming with the current of change, working with clients to constantly adapt without the need for a so called “change management” effort each  time that a change is needed, which basically all the time.



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3 thoughts on “7 Tips for successful coping with organizational chaos (revised)

  1. One of my friends who spent part of his life sailing the expensive sailboats of millionaires from NY to the Bahamas once told me: “The worst thing to do in a chaotic sea is to anchor the boat and hope the tempest ends sooner than later. Sail with a direction in mind while respectfully riding the storm.. But, he pointed out, make sure you start out with a crew who is willing and OK with that.”

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