Chaos Is Not Your Problem. Your Relationship With It Is.

Agility Consulting |

chaos

By Mike Richardson, Team Agility Practice Leader

chaosWhen working with teams of all descriptions and, in particular, CEOs and their executive leadership teams, I help them explore the secrets of agility, understanding what it is and what it isn’t, to develop agile-teamwork.
 Teams who are able to:

Anticipate Change
Generate Confidence
Initiate Action
Liberate Thinking
Evaluate Results

In particular, I help them understand the day to day realities they run into which they must change their relationship with: Everyday Agile Teamwork. The #1 reality is CHAOS! In an increasingly VUCA World chaos is only going to get worse. So, it isn’t the presence or absence of chaos which separates agile teams and fragile teams, victors from victims and the best from the rest. Chaos is not your problem. It’s your relationship with it that is! What relationship do you have with chaos? Disorganized-chaos or organized-chaos?

The majority of teams and leaders are stuck in dis-organized chaos: Constant Headaches And Ongoing Surprises. A minority of leaders and teams live in organized chaos: Constantly Having An Organizing System. These are two very different worlds as we have been reminded of in only the last few weeks:

Over-Prepared and Under-Whelmed

Only a couple of weeks ago, in anticipation of Hurricane Joaquin, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said, “by being over-prepared we will be under-whelmed.”   How many times do you and your team experience the opposite – being under-prepared and over-whelmed? Two very different worlds:

  • Remember the definition of luck, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”. To be lucky we have to be prepared. Ever prepared. Many teams aren’t. Luck is a lot less random than we think.
  • When I hear people say they are “over-whelmed” (or code for it – “buried, snowed under, spread too thin, can’t get my head above water”), I asked them, “are you over-whelmed or are you under-organized?” Under-organized for chaos, under organized for agility. Most people are over-whelmed because they are under-organized, under-prepared.
  • As a result, they experience constant headaches and ongoing surprises

Disasters Happen Slowly, Slowly, Slowly and then … all of a Sudden!

“I am writing to you today to offer a personal and profound apology” says Michael Horn, President & CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, in the apology letter we received just yesterday. You see, three months ago, we bought my wife a new VW Passat Turbo Diesel, as a continuation of her lifelong love of the Volkswagen brand which started when she lived in Germany. His letter explains that “earlier this month” the US Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies blew the whistle.

  • But the disaster didn’t happen earlier this month did it? Or earlier this year, 3 years, 5 years? Decade? As the investigations continue, more will come to light. Just like with the BP Gulf Oil Spill, I wouldn’t be surprised to find the investigations concluding that the disaster happened slowly, slowly, slowly over the last 10 years with some kind of cultural decay.
  • Quite likely, in the interests of growth (becoming global #1 automotive manufacturer only a few months ago earlier this year), VW became less and less prepared to play by the rules, to uphold the standards, to live by the ethics required, now finding itself in the onset of one of the biggest corporate disasters of recent times, potentially on the same list as Enron, WorldCom and others.
  • Their organizing system of growth and ethics/standards/rules progressively derailed somewhere along the line.

Constant headaches and ongoing surprises or constantly having an organizing system? It a choice. We help teams get organized with an operating system for agility, to change their relationship with chaos. Chaos is not your problem. Your relationship with it is.

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