The Rhythm Method
When a company is started, many small parts come together to form the idea. These parts originate from different people, similar to the combining of atoms or elements. The beginning of the business is pure chaos, where a huge amount of energy is needed; some of that energy is wasted in the form of heat and light, some is consumed by the creation of the ‘thing’.
The atoms then come alive and form a living organism. What happens next is set of random events, and reactions to those events will require a culture of chaos to keep the business alive.
It takes a special person and team to manage the initial chaos of business, the pace of expansion, and constant nurturing of the cell-splitting organism.
A good team will have a mix of charisma, optimism, naivety and energy. Combine that with experience, vision, market demand, and a solution focused on solving a problem, and the idea then becomes a viable business. A business still in chaos mode, but also a business that knows 99% of the businesses before it are dead. The team believes chaos & hustle are the fission keeping the idea alive.
During this period of creation, the chaos culture is needed. Without initial chaos, businesses and ideas die quickly. At first, trying to overplan, building multiple scenario P&L’s, networking with potential name brand advisors, and writing a business plan with dotted ‘i’s’ and crossed ‘t’s’ are energy wasters and business killers.
What most people don’t know and are never told: business should be chaotic. Definitely at first and even sometimes during maturity. This is why smart people from Corporate America often fail at entrepreneurship. They apply what they know — an environment of precision — or attempts at it. They bring the over-planned, over-documented approaches to running a business and forget (or don’t realize) the organism first survives because of its thrashing, not in spite of it.
But over time, energy creating necessary chaos becomes energy wasted on needless chaos. A lot of owners burn out when transitioning from chaos to rhythm. Thrashing — though great at first — eventually becomes exhausting, and owners wonder “is this all there is?”
Transformation from business chaos to rhythm occurs over time, not all at once. Forcing the timeline is certain death. Skipping over critical parts of the evolution, missing out on foundational elements in your organism, and bypassing a generation of traits only brings mutation.
If you listen to your organism, you can hear its beats; chaos, chaos, rhythm. Chaos. Rhythm. Rhythm, rhythm, chaos. As leadership continues to identify what is working, the song picks up the tempo, adding additional instruments to the business. Your song starts to sound better, still not what you want, but it has a beat, then a melody. Once entrepreneurs taste rhythm, they get exciting because “the idea is working.” Results are getting better with the same effort, calmness comes to the team.
The real tricky part is keeping the beat while the often charismatic team that created it gets off tune or adds their own personal riffs. This is where roles need to change up, keeping the rhythm, but enabling those who are creators to do something new.
The last phase of business is precision and its primary purpose is to allow owners much needed respite, liquidity, or the chance to take on a brand new challenge (a whole business, a new department, a new product or service line) while the original creation runs predictably on its own. Keeping it’s value; delivering the ROI.
What makes a business good might never reach precision. And that’s OK. But areas like accounting, sales process, performance management, and recruiting can be made precise.
CHAOS > RHYTHM > PRECISION
Make a chart, list every function of your organism. Which atoms are in chaos? Which in rhythm? Any in precision?
Do you know the difference between stages? Do you know when it’s ripe to be in chaos or when you’ve been there too long and chaos is doing harm?
As a leader, you decide where to focus the organism’s energy. You have to know when it’s creating waste heat. And if you’re feeling burnt out, all your items in chaos are the reason.
When triaging stalled business growth and creating fixes aligned to owners’ personal wishes, we use the Rhythm Method to get leadership focused on the right atoms. Alone, items in chaos aren’t the enemy.
Try thinking in terms of chaos < rhythm < precision, and let us know if that framework helps focus your energy.