Chaos is defined as “a state of utter confusion, or disorder, a total lack of organization or order.” If there is one thing we are not missing right now is more chaos! The world has been turned upside-down in ways that we have never dreamed of! Things that once seemed normal, now require deep preparation, orchestration and facilitation like never before. The new normal is no longer new; it’s getting old, and the longing to return to even better days seems a distant probability. So how can we take advantage of this situation and turn the associated stress with chaos into energy?
It boils down to three things: clarity of vision, setting realistic expectations, and dedication to new approaches. Since the pandemic began, I have read and listened to many strategies in dealing with stress, people management, business management, and how to build plans to survive the period we now live in. The reality is that change is constant and the chaos it often brings along with it are with us all the time. I suggest viewing chaos as an opportunity, a chance to rethink and recalibrate and explore. Let’s dive into those three elements to take advantage of the turmoil.
First, where do you want to drive your business or organization forward? You don’t have to shoot for the moon (although there is nothing wrong with a setting high goals), it’s just that sometimes bite-sized chunks may be more realistic and enable you to chip away and experience interim progress. Take the time to be succinct about where you want to go and what that vision looks like along with the impact your organization is trying to make. Engage your employees and those outside the organization in those conversations. The more insight you can gather from your vital stakeholders, the greater chance you will discover a path that never existed.
Second, set realistic goals about what is achievable. Allow yourself permission to explore and imagine beyond what you would consider “normal” and remain within what is fundable and resource-able. Challenging times can be overwhelming, but taking time to reevaluate your goals and direction often provides unexpected clarity. Do not undertake this process alone; rather, include those who are invested in your business along with those you serve. Often, we can become intimidated by the unknown and our imagination begins to alter our thinking, and we begin to question the validity of new approaches. While you want to build a sustainable future, do it under the guise of success. Ask yourself, “What do I and my team need to build this new approach?” Avoid allowing negative thoughts to limit your potential.
Lastly, be dedicated to trying those new approaches and measuring their impact. One way to facilitate a new direction I mentioned earlier is to allow your staff to stretch outside their current job and take the lead on a new project. Staff participation provides a sense of ownership and inclusivity that is often elusive to most organizations. Often, being close to the client or customer, an organization’s staff recognize opportunities unseen by the leadership. This sense of inclusion and ownership brings your organization closer together and builds a strong bond with the vision of the organization. Create measurement metrics that are simple and understandable while providing a “real-time” evaluation of success.
Driving a hybrid car, the driver generates energy while braking to slow down or stop. Often, that process of slowing down in an organization offers a chance to create new energy to dream and imagine. Let’s work to turn that “slow down” into productive energy in our organizations and, ultimately, turn that energy into results.
Bruce Weber is founder and president/CEO at Weber Group. Weber brings more than 20 years of experience to the for-profit and nonprofit community, working with startup, growth and mature organizations. His focus is in strengthening organizations through strategic planning, organizational development, leadership and board development. He is a BoardSource Certified Governance trainer and a founding partner of the Nonprofit Lifecycles Institute.