It’s time to revisit the matter of chaos – which is always present, particularly in our fast-moving society but which is rarely talked about and even more rarely understood. I’ve been doing research on chaotic events and Chaos Theory since the mid 1990’s.
It’s a fascinating topic and even more fascinating as a research focus. Consequently, I know a great deal about chaos by this time. And, I distinctly know enough not to be alarmed by it. Chaos is like any other naturally-occurring event – it can be dealt with very effectively if managers and others know the rudiments of Chaos Theory. In the mid-1990s we began out work in Chaos Theory by pairing two groups of managers – one group that we had apprised of Chaos Theory and the second group that was matched in management skill and experience to the first group but who had no knowledge whatsoever of Chaos Theory. And, as a result, the data showed that that lack of knowledge was obvious in the managers’ daily conduct of business matters. A recent article in the WSJ quoted Bernard Russell when he said, “I think the universe is all spots and jumps, without unity, without continuity, without coherence or orderliness or any of the other properties that governesses love. . .It consists of events, short, small, and haphazard. Order, unity, and continuity are human inventions just as truly as are catalogues and encyclopedias.” The article goes on to compare Russell’s remarks to the Trump presidency in which each day stands alone, seemingly unrelated to the day before. I’ll stop with the WSJ analysis – the WSJ is very poor at analysis, overall, so I’ll take over and provide some insight. In this country, we’ve been lulled into thinking and believing that we can have “constancy” and “solidity” in our lives – that’s why the welfare state has been so successful – it provides a constant income without the need for any effort, work-wise. So, little personal risk, as it were. That’s what American citizens have been told for decades: “Seek the easy, no-risk way, so that your life will be calm and predictable.” This is so wrong-headed – We should have been telling people: “Go for the risk, make things happen for you, chase your rainbows, punch the envelope! And expect to deal with change when it comes!” This approach is what makes a life satisfying – and it’s why Trump’s presidency (and his life) is so satisfying – he understands Chaos Theory well. And, the rest of us need to rush to keep up with what is right in front of us – go with change, enjoy the chaos that ensues, and learn to deal with it to make things right – and different – in your lives and your companies!
CHAOS AND OTHER MATTERS