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True Organizational Change Requires a Little Chaos

organizational change

Have you ever heard this quote? “Chaos often breeds life, while order breeds habit.” – Henry Adams, American Historian. I love it. Partially because it’s true, and partly because it reminds me why organizational change is continuously necessary.

Let’s back up a moment and think about your organization.

Perhaps it’s a church like mine, or maybe a small business, or a restaurant. It doesn’t matter. The principle is the same. Every establishment begins with an idea and ends as an organization. I say, “ends,” because every organization does eventually end. And weirdly, it’s the “organizing” of the organization that works against us.

Here’s how it typically goes: An entrepreneur has a great idea. There’s a gap in the marketplace. A missing product. A need for a new kind of church. Or maybe just a passion. Whatever. The specifics don’t matter. The idea, product, or offering is tested. The test goes well, and the idea gains traction. Demand increases. I know I’m expediting the process dramatically, but while the timeline isn’t accurate, the steps are still the same. The increased demand puts a strain on the company/church/business. This is a welcomed strain, but a strain all the same. An employee is hired. Or elements of the business are outsourced. Complexity increases dramatically. What began as an idea now needs less leadership and more management.

Leaders create, and managers organize. The process of organizing the business keeps you in business. Unfortunately, organizational change can just as quickly be the beginning of the end.

Here’s the problem with organizing: It breeds habits, just like our friend Henry Adams suggested. Organizing brings things into order, making the business habitual, predictable, and repeatable. I know, all good and necessary for scale and increased demand. But all this organizing can be detrimental to innovating.

FYI: This is why the term “serial entrepreneur” exists. Entrepreneurs don’t want to manage anything. They want to create. So when organizing the business becomes more necessary than creating the business, the entrepreneur leaves to start again. And again. And again.

Now, back to our quote. Organizing is necessary for any idea or business to become sustainable. Still, if not balanced with some chaos, the management will eventually squeeze out the leadership, bringing the end ever nearer. The secret is to introduce some chaos. And the best way to bring chaos is to allow for change.

Change is a necessity for growth. Businesses must change. Product offerings must change. Church models must change. These changes bring life through the chaos of management disruption. It’s almost an organizational life-cycle litmus test. If there is no chaos, there’s likely to be no true organizational change.

So, how organized is your organization? Is it all habit? Is it missing a little change-driven chaos?

This article on organizational change originally appeared here, and is used by permission.