Finding Calm in Chaos

Most jobs become chaotic at some point or another. Mine is no exception.

Actually, mine might be crazier than most, not because of disorganization, but because of how large and complex the ecosystem of products and partners is at our organization. To take this a step further, the complexity and chaos is not simply due to a lot of moving parts, but due to how interconnected everything is. Making a strategic change in one part of the business has impact on how the rest of our businesses perform. Changing one element has impact across over a dozen others, so understanding cause and effect across so many elements presents its own challenges.

So what can one do when presented with situations that may seem a little chaotic? What works for me is trying to take a step back and assessing the end state of where you are trying to go. What is your end goal? Where are you trying to arrive? Make sure you understand the reasons as to why the goal is what it is. From there, start trying to deconstruct the elements involved in getting there – this may be straightforward or it may be ambiguous.

For example, if you were tasked with creating a communications strategy, you might want to deconstruct all of the different elements you need to consider in your strategy design. What channels are you going to be communicating across? Email, mobile, SMS, any paid or investment channels such as SEM or Google Ads? Is there a marketing funnel or framework that the strategy needs to adhere to? What data are you going to have available? Is the system automated or manual? The questions are nearly endless, but getting it all out on a whiteboard (my go-to) or on a piece of paper helps you define all of the elements you need to account for.

From here, continue to deconstruct the elements and start making connections between them and understand how they are related. This may not be an exact solve for every situation you come across, but typically if you can define the environment and the elements that exist within it, you start to bring organization to what otherwise may be chaotic, and that’s typically something you can continue to build on.

Ultimately this is all easier said than done, I realize. What I outline above may be obvious to some. In my experience the biggest reason why this approach doesn’t happen, is we don’t feel like we have the proper amount of time to sit back to analyze and understand the full breadth of a given situation. If that is the case, I urge you to take an uninterrupted and focused 15 minutes, and see how far you can get with the above approach. If there’s something you don’t know or need more information on, write the question down and the name of the person who can help you find that answer.