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Chaos

We all like and naturally gravitate toward order. Order makes us comfortable. We have a feeling of efficiency. Of things getting done or getting somewhere. As managers, one of our primary responsibilities is to keep things working smoothly and orderly. When things get out of hand or become chaotic we get very uncomfortable. But when you are trying to bring about a cultural change, say from command and control to empowerment. Chaos is a necessary step that has to be experienced as the old order is abandoned and the new order is determined. When people work together to create a new order such as operating as High Performance Team they will have to experience the discomfort and chaos of letting go of the old ways and learning the new.

A High Performance Team will experience a number of chaotic situations as it learns to work together. Since the team does not have a formal leader and everyone's ideas are going to be considered, the team as well as casual observers will see chaos at many points. This is normal. This is expected. This is necessary. Kevin Kelly, in his outstanding book Out of Control carefully explains that organisms that thrive and succeed over time constantly stand teetering on the edge of disaster. Their struggle to survive causes them to adapt and continuously try new models, many of which fail, while a few turn out to be far more efficient and effective than any that have gone before.

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Contact: bodwell@ptcpartners.com June 23.1996
Copyright (C) 1996-2002, Donald J. Bodwell. All rights reserved.