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How to turn chaos into an opportunity in your organisation?

Posted on May 12, 2017 in Articles

ss1The definition of chaos is a complete disorder, erratic behaviour and a state of utter confusion. Now this sounds quite scary. The thing about humans is that what we don’t know sometimes scares us. And that is perfectly a normal reaction that we all have. Now if I were to say, chaos IS LIFE. Would that make sense? The Earth is thought to have been formed by fiery and chaotic collisions of forces in the giant disc-shaped cloud of material. Weather itself is a chaotic system. Chaos is part of our life.

The question is that in that state of chaos, what do we do? How do we react?

Let’s look at one recent example of a state of chaos and how did the people involved react. United Airlines – where a man was forcibly removed in a chaotic situation to make room for an airline employee who needed a seat. In a video that has been viewed more than a million times showed airport guards hauling the passenger out of his seat, and his nose bloodied in the chaos prompting an international PR disaster. Now if we dissect this case, how could they have done better in a chaotic situation? Or what should organisations do to take hold of the situation to turn it around into an opportunity?

Back to basics
Remember on what are the values or guiding principles of your organisation or what you do. What is the main purpose? Being back to the basics means to try to not complicate anything but understanding why you were doing something in the first place makes you more focused and able to make decisions a lot more easier and able to contain the chaos. Understanding what your organisation stands for will help you manage the chaos better.

Using Common Sense
Having common sense, which ironically is actually uncommon. In times of chaos, we are supposed to use our “common sense”, or logical thinking to solve issues, however at times, emotions and rushing to ‘normalise’ the chaos gets to the better of us. In times of chaos, it is even more important to take step back, look at the situation, and look at how to solve the problem by looking at things in a different angle, looking at the pro’s and con’s and its impact.

Resourceful Problem Solving
Having strong problem solving skills is definitely essential in any organisations. However in times of chaos, not only having strong problem solving skills, but able to decide in a short span of time and think in the most resourceful way is the key to turning chaos into opportunities. Many start-ups use resourceful problem solving skills in times of problems and chaos and turns them into opportunities. Innovation is not from having new ideas, but from solving problems in times of chaos.

Refresh Policy & Procedure
Policy and procedures is there for a reason. However many times we had forgotten why the policy or procedure is there for the first place and we forget the reason or the essence of the policy. Often enough we follow the policy and procedure and not revisit to update them even though the times have changed. And especially now where situations are changing rapidly, the policy and procedure available do not cover every single scenario and situation. It is more critical that we are to review and refresh the policy and procedure.

Last but not least, having the empowerment to live and uphold the values of the organisation. When there are no policy and procedure to guide you, or if it is out of the policy or procedure, understanding the values of the organisation and knowing that you have the empowerment from the organisation will lead you to make the right decision in times of chaos. At times decisions need to be made by a spilt second, and knowing you are empowered to make the right decision based on the guiding principles of the organisation will help turn chaos into opportunity.

We always see chaos as a problem and it will be a huge problem if it spirals out of control, for example the United Airlines recent situation. Understanding what to do or how to react in chaotic moments, will definitely turn chaos into an opportunity. Elon Musk is one of those who thrive on chaos and grabs it as an opportunity.

Whether the organisation is facing a huge chaotic moments, or it could be a chaotic day for you, there will be a rainbow at the end of it. 

A quote by Sun Tzu: - “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”.

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