The last month or so I have been reading about or have attended talks about speed and chaos: how ‘business unusual’ is the next wave.

Those who thrive in chaos and are able to embrace change; and those that allow a certain amount of creativity, are those that will have the competitive advantage.
Eminent British artist Cornelia Parker ‘s  ‘Cold, Dark Matter’. She had the British Army blow up this shed and its contents to create an installation piece now displayed at the Tate Modern in Britain.

It is chaos managed so that the viewer can discern method and beauty.  Even without the background knowledge that this suspended piece was once an actual shed, the viewer can see various components – a hammer head, a bicycle wheel spoke – that reveal this.  ‘Cold, Dark Matter: Exploded View’ offers a new perspective – the idea that even something blown to bits makes sense if the chaos is handled with knowledge and creativity.

Cold, Dark Matter: Exploded view is one of the premier attractions at the Tate Modern

Four years ago I proposed a working brand essence based on this theory of managed chaos, as a platform for creativity and growth. This was for a destination brand, industry lingo for branding a town city or country. The consulting economist, who was with an international design and planning firm, looked at me in horror and said that no investor would look at a destination that enabled or encouraged chaos. 
How times have changed. 

“Modern business is pure chaos”  
To see this in action, check out the above series in online magazine Fast Company about how companies are navigating chaos successfully:
In his address at the Khazanah Global Lecture (Nov 29) in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Victor Fung, Group Chairman of the Li & Fung group of companiesspeaks about the need for organisations to be nimble and flexible, to organize coherent teams to compete effectively.
In Malaysia, entrepreneurs are constantly navigating their way through chaos. Let’s face it – we are not the most systematic or orderly country in the world. Or the cleanest. 
Every day, we have to navigate the risk of crime, Internet failure, electricity shutdowns, bureaucracy, corruption, potential floods, filthy public spaces – and it goes on… But all of this has actually been a huge blessing as it has given us a resilience no MBA can bestow.
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
Leaders who thrive in chaos look at it as a challenger as well as a muse. Successful leaders understand the careful interplay between boundaries and chaos. But too much of a challenge or inspiration without some kind of self-imposed boundary is lethal.  
I have met leaders who are quick to embrace creativity and knowledge, but they lack discipline. They are stuck in a loop that paralyses them, jumping from one great idea to another – this often leads to their workforce becoming bored and disillusioned with countless new ideas and nothing to show for it.
But I have also had the privilege of meeting those who embrace a certain level of chaos but have the discipline to set clear goals and objectives in creative workshops and brainstorming sessions. These are the ones who are willing to see a project to the end, warts and all. 
These leaders are brave enough to face the possibility of failure in order to strive for success.
“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.” ― Chuck PalahniukInvisible Monsters


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