Navigating chaos and disruption

Lego ShipWe all know them. The people who always find their way through transformation, disruption, and chaos while making it seem easy; just like another day. They are usually the person that you, your family, or your organization go to when things go crazy. They are able to stay calm, cool, collected, and have an uncanny ability to assess situations, discern what is important, and recognize “noise” as just that, noise, not requiring any action beyond acknowledgment.

They’re valuable people to know.

How do they do this?

In my experience these individuals possess an innate frame of reference or structure for managing their lives and work. Many times, they are the people that get labeled the “process” guy or “systems” lady. It is virtually impossible form them to shut off this framework of looking at the world. They drive their family, friends, and coworkers a little crazy for not being able to let go of this framework. They are methodical, transparent, and deliberate in how they approach everything at work and in line at the movie theatre; always figuring out how to follow the critical path to their desired outcome.

They are relentless and successful.

Translating to business

Organizations go through change and disruption daily. In my years of experience, I’ve found the organizations that are best equipped to deal with chaos and disruption have this same capacity. They have a framework for understanding what drives the success of their business and they can apply that framework to chaos and disruption. Most organizations seldom find themselves in a state not considered chaotic or disruptive. So, this framework is the standard way doing business.

You might hear these organization describe initiatives, tools, or efforts like BPM, process, Lean, or Six Sigma as their framework, but it goes beyond that for those organizations that are able to perform at a high level through chaos and disruption. Processes have to change to keep up with chaos. People and what they do (processes and activities) have to change and realign to deliver value to customers during chaos and disruption or the organization will be left behind. An organization must “think” and operate at a higher level than process. For many, the APQC Process Classification Framework (PCF) offers this higher level framework.

A quick example

The PCF offers a recruiting manager an understanding of the sourcing, recruiting, and selection activities executed in most organizations. It doesn’t provide an order as each organization will vary their recruiting activities based on the staffing needs, organizational financial performance, shifts in technology and services in the market, use of outsourcers, etc. These forces all cause disruption to the recruiting manager, so having an inventory of processes and tasks that can be used to assign ownership and accountability both inside and outside the organization to humans and systems is highly valued. Activities can be reconfigured and evaluated separately or in groups (processes and process groups) to determine how any shift or disruption might impact the ability to get qualified staff into the organization efficiently and effectively.

Frameworks give us tools to lean on when chaos hits and to gradually improve as the pace of life and business allows. They are far from rigid and become more important every day as the world presses on the accelerator.

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Categories: Continuous Improvement, Disruption, Frameworks

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3 Comments on “Navigating chaos and disruption”

  1. Thanks Ron, I’ve actually done a few things with the framework.

    I’ve modeled the framework in a tool call Debate Graph for the purpose of providing a reference architecture for both business and enterprise architects.
    I’ve modeled the framework in a comapping tool for the purpose of displaying the way the sales process works.

    You’ve done a great job putting a nice spin on something many like myself struggle with as you mention in our personal and professional lifes.

    It’s an awesome strenght with an expensive price tag. We are unique and see the world very differently.

    I’ve noticed in the US people like myself have become nearly extinct. For this reason, me and another member of a UK based forum of professionals intend to start raising the visibility for these individuals.

    Thank you again.

  2. February 25, 2013 at 5:54 am #

    Thanks for the comment and it sounds like some very interesting work you are doing. I wish you great success ad you continue to build your forum.

  3. March 4, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Great article Ron – I shared on my Facebook page and on Twitter. I make a living talking about intrinsic reward – I call this the RHB 3rd gear behavior. Your description above “able to stay calm, cool, collected, and have an uncanny ability to assess situations, discern what is important, and recognize “noise” as just that, noise, not requiring any action beyond acknowledgment” is a very good description of the 3rd gear widget.

    Keep up the great work – we have to recognize “good guy behavior” in a world filled with narrow self interest (1st gear) or external reward (2nd gear.)


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