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In chaos lies opportunity

Aside from acute chaos, which is caused inevitably by a standalone fail event and requires disaster recovery activities to mitigate, the most common cause of chronic chaos in the workplace is lack of ownership. 

This lack of ownership can be the result of a variety of elements: poor business architecture, lack of infrastructure, inadequate or incompetent management, or an inappropriate organizational structure, an incorrect process, an inadequate system… The list can go on and on.

Chronic chaos presents a formidable to the decerning career builder identify the glaring spaces that un-owned  – it will normally be a point of absent or underserviced governance, processes or management then grab it and make it yours. Build your portfolio of ownership and you will by default refine your role and it can only be in the upwards direction. 

This draws off the ‘be part of the solution’ approach, but it’s more specific to a chaotic environment 

Instead, keep your head whilst everyone is losing theirs; see the wood for the tree and use it to your advantage by taking control where is none – it can only result in positive progression. 


Take Ownership

We all experience chaos at least occasionally in our day-to-day lives. Many of us experience it daily. Most people don’t love it and often struggle with chaos when it shows up, let’s face it, we live in a chaotic world.

It would be nice if leading a family, a team or a company was predictable, slow-paced, and packed with easy decisions, but it’s not.  Many people struggle when things are in disarray – so to be a good leader, you’ve learned that you must lead through the chaos.

In times of uncertainty, we may be tempted to create structure and order, because it feels safe and predictable.  It will help our teams be less stressed, calmer, and more productive, right?  Well, it’s also at these times that companies need to spur innovation.  Innovation is all about disruption, change, and the new.  Innovation needs some chaos. Operationalizing it isn’t going to help us innovate and that isn’t what our people really need.


Just like the Earth, every growing organization experiences chaos. Anytime we’re doing or experiencing something new – rolling out a new vision, inventing something, transitioning leaders – there will be chaotic moments. We outgrow systems, processes, and even people, which can cause chaotic moments. It’s natural. Embrace it.


This may sound counter-intuitive but just because a situation is chaotic doesn’t mean you need to be chaotic. In fact, leaders must demonstrate through our own behaviors that chaos is not the enemy. Don’t panic when chaos rears its scary head. Focus on the root of the chaos, not the fruit. It’s easy to overreact when faced with what seems like utter confusion. And we can spend a lot of time and energy trying to address the “fruit.” Or we can let the “fruit” reveal the root cause of the chaos so that we can address it and lead our organizations into a new season of growth and prosperity.


Chaos is uncomfortable for many people and when something is uncomfortable, we tend to want to avoid it or get through it as fast as possible. If leaders aren’t careful they can make hasty decisions that jeopardize the long-term health of the organization. One of the things that makes this hard is the pace of change in business. Change frequently causes chaos and, as they say, change is the only constant. So how do we slow down in this environment? Give yourself time to deal with issues as they come up. Think of a doctor’s office and how they reserve time each day for patients who need same-day attention. If I don’t need the time I’ve reserved to embrace some chaos, I can repurpose it for strategic or other work. The point is: we need to give ourselves enough time to make sure we don’t make knee-jerk reactions that could ultimately harm the business. So, if you want to find the opportunity in chaos: • Embrace it. Remember there’s opportunity in it. • Chill out. Don’t let organizational chaos push you into chaos yourself. • Slow down. Take your time to avoid knee-jerk decisions. If we do these three things, chaos will become less of a challenge and more of an opportunity.