Chaotic Management: The Painful Truth

Donald Trump says he finds the chaotic, constantly revolving door at the White House exciting and invigorating. And there may be more method in the madness than first thought. The disadvantage of chaos is that it is destabilising. The advantage is that it may destabilise your foes more than you. Which is more important?

The master of messy battlefield tactics was the German general Erwin Rommel, championed swift, energetic action. Even if it left his own men wondering what was happening. The same fast-paced seizing of opportunities has also worked for entrepreneurs such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. He likes to get ahead of rivals early on, even if that means a temporary chaotic situation.

Take business lunches as another example. I reached the conclusion that there is something intrinsic to business meals that makes them difficult to navigate and potentially chaotic for everyone. Think of all that can go wrong, from not knowing how to eat the food, to spilling the wine, to throwing up. Then think of all the challenges of the average meeting. Put them all together and you’ve basically got a recipe for disaster. It seems to me that the mission of any restaurant meal is to relax and enjoy food with people you like. And this is fundamentally opposed to the mission of any business meeting. This is to exchange information as quickly as possible with people you don’t necessarily have any personal affection for. Just as golf is a good walk spoilt, a business lunch or dinner is a nice meal destroyed, or a meeting slowed down by unnecessary consumption.

Of course, the more ponderous forces of planning and organisation may reassert themselves in the end. Facebook’s old manna, move fast and break things, suddenly looks less clever. And it would be worth remembering that even Rommel was eventually defeated by Montgomery’s cautious and meticulously planned application of force at El Alamein.

Photo by giveawayboy on / CC BY-NC-ND

Originally posted 2018-05-05 15:00:35.

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