Organizational Chaos Stems From These 4 Sources

organizational chaos
Organizational Chaos. Image credit: Pixabay

Nothing is more important to business success than navigating organizational chaos. After all, if you’re not working towards something productive then neither is your business. Part of doing so — successfully — stems from first defining what success looks like.

What’s clear to you may not be understood by all. How many times have you sent an email where the message sent wasn’t the message received? Or, where you said one thing in a meeting but really meant something else? Exactly.

Now, when you scale the likelihood for confusion to the masses, where different business units have different definitions of success, you get the potential for duplicative efforts, wasted costs and unplanned change.

Organizational Chaos

Here are four sources of organizational chaos to be aware of:

1. Complacency.

There’s nothing worse than complacency. There’s the old saying that “complacency kills.” It kills morale. It kills work ethic It kills potential and, as a result, it kills opportunity. If chaos is defined as “unexpected change” then there’s nothing that incites unexpected change more than unawareness; than letting your guard down. Don’t get me wrong, the unexpected can present itself anywhere at anytime (see bullet point number three below) but that’s not something that can be controlled. What can be controlled, however, is the degree of complacency that exists within you.

How do you mitigate complacency? The first step is to become aware of it. You can’t manage what you don’t measure and you can’t improve what you can’t manage.

2. Lack of clarity.

When there are unclear roles, undefined responsibilities, ill-defined expectations, unaccountability or a vague definition of success, there’s the potential for chaos. When there’s chaos, people operate on their own agendas because there’s no clear definition of success to be held accountable for. Without information, people define their own reality. They must, because if they don’t then there’s nothing to do and the human ego won’t allow that. People want to be right. They want to be recognized. When you’re happy, it’s easy to think that others are happy. When you know what needs to happen, it’s easy to assume that everybody does. Take the time to clarify three things: what is happening, what you want or intend to happen, and why. Clarifying these three points leaves nothing to chance. Over-communicate, or under-deliver.

3. Ego.

In his book, Ego Is The Enemy, author Ryan Holiday offers some incredibly valuable insight, stating, “successful people…can’t see what ego prevents them from doing because all they can see is what they’ve already done.” Where ego becomes a source of chaos is when one places me before we in their decision making process, because doing so erodes trust. The question becomes, “when will [fictitious person] not think of him or herself first?” Without trust, uncertainty snowballs and you find yourself double and triple checking efforts (i.e. wasting time) that you should (ideally) only have to check once. That’s chaos.

4. Murphy.

And then there’s the Murphy factor. Murphy, which is the “unexpected” element of chaos, will show up announced, unwarranted and (most of the time) unwelcome, yet there’s nothing to be done about it. All you can do when Murphy shows up is roll with the punches; learn, adapt and move on — and continue learning.

What does chaos look like in your organization?

Originally published at Chaos Advantage.