Management Articles


Can Your Organization Thrive on Chaos?

By: Robert H. Kent, Ph.D., CMC

President of The Mansis Development Corporation, Dr. Kent is a specialist in the structure and management of small and medium-sized organizations, and frequently serves as a personal coach and management consultant to executives for solving their management and employee performance problems. Before founding his consulting company, Bob held senior management and executive positions in federal and provincial government and private corporations. He has been a director of several health care and service organizations and a consulting member of private and government task forces in the areas of government finance, organization structure, personnel management and executive development. Since 1972 he has lectured in management at several Canadian and American universities in the faculties of Management, Administrative Studies, Medicine and Continuing Education where he has been an award winner for excellence in teaching and professional expertise; and he has published over 125 books and articles on management.

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If you really want a competitive advantage, make sure your organization can successfully respond to accelerating change. If your competition can't do this, it won't be here five years from now. Survivors will have the ability to react, constantly improve, and continuously implement change. Tom Peters of In Search of Excellence fame writes, "excellent firms of tomorrow will cherish impermanence - and thrive on chaos."

In the past, the "technology of organization" was used to resist change. Now we must use the same and new technologies to do the opposite. You may only have one try at implementing a change. If you succeed and your competitor doesn't, he will be out of business. But it won't happen just once. You'll be challenged to implement change continuously.

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In his recent book, The New Realities., Peter Drucker wrote that the world has changed dramatically, and somehow business must figure out how to survive in the new political and economic realities. In response, bookstores are overflowing with management texts by researchers promoting new and usually better ways to run organizations. But the jury is still out about exactly what you should do. The alternatives seem endless. Most significantly, though, none of the "revolutionary" discoveries about management is of any value unless you and your organization will accept and implement it. So while your competition depletes its resources and morale by bouncing between gurus and sampling every new fad and fashion, I believe it would be more prudent for you to devote your organization's energy towards learning how to change. Out-distance your competition by improving your firm's ability to implement change.

The best place to start is to assess your organization's present capacity to change. An accurate, objective measure can help you improve your organization's ability to change, pinpoint areas for improvement and quickly raise your employees' consciousness regarding the need to be able to change. Then, when you decide what changes you want in order to survive the "chaos", you'll be able to implement those changes successfully.

Of the almost twenty factors that Mansis measures which determine successful organizational change, the two principal ones are your employees' willingness to change and your management's ability to implement change .

Inertia is common in organizations. But today an overly-conservative attitude can kill a company. Frequently, low trust of management, previous failures at implementing change, and personal fear make employees unwilling to take the risk associated with any change. Experience shows that many executives aren't aware of these feelings in their staff. Unless your organization's willingness to change is measured, you and your management team may remain oblivious to this potential impediment to organizational change and improvement.

The ability to implement change is determined by your formal organization, its structure, systems and procedures, and the skills of your employees, especially your management. Since implementing change is a new focus for most organizations, these change requirements are often absent or underdeveloped. Only by pinpointing them can you develop or improve them, and increase your organization's ability to survive.

© Copyright 2001 The Mansis Development Corporation

Other Articles by Robert H. Kent, Ph.D., CMC

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