In business, like in life, many concepts exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites. For example, strategy-tactic, planning-reacting, governance-agility, Supply-demand, central-distribute, control-autonomy, etc. But, in reality, those opposites are two complementary parts that together create a whole. As depicts in the yin-yang principles, each one of the opposites contains some other, and the balance between them is what you should seek. While each person sees the balance differently, the balance is always some gray area between the two opposites.

For a long time, I’m collecting contradictions that exist in the business world. I’m doing it to find out what is the right balance between opposites that generate business flow. Business flow is like personal flow, which is a mental state that psychologists define as complete immersion in an activity by a person. Business flow applies to business (a group of people) instead of one person.

I believe that being aware of different opposites in the business world and finding a mutual balance between all of them is crucial for seeking your business flow. Therefore, I’ll post this list (about 20 opposites) in one of my future posts.

When I tried to create a visual model to depict the concept and help people to find their business flow, I realized that to develop a simple model I need to focus on the two opposites that drive the flow. After a lot of time and effort, I believe that I found two opposites that are the cause of a business flow. One opposite is a business-related opposite, while the other is a people-related opposite. The business-related opposites are order and chaos, and the people opposites are productive and calm.

Chaos-Order

On one edge of this continuum, we can find “order on the other one “chaos”. Both are part of our lives and although we tend and prefer to ignore and minimize one of them (Chaos) it is a central element in our life that we can leverage a lot. Most of the opposites in the business world eventually fall under chaos and order (for example strategy-tactic, planning-reacting, governance-agility, central-distribute, and control-autonomy. We can map five of the six examples above to order and chaos.

Order and chaos are vital for business flow. If an organization is focused just on order and ignores the chaos, this organization will fall apart when he needs to deal with chaos. If an organization focuses on chaos, it won’t go anywhere. The right balance between order and chaos is critical for an organization’s success. This balance is an organization decision that will impact the organization structure and its known shadow, organization culture.

As we discussed earlier, both Chaos and Order are extremes that you should ignore the middle between them; the gray area is your target.

Slide2

Productive-Calm

The opposites in the personal view have two other sides On one side being productive, which is the ability and willingness of people to produce and achieve results. The motivation might be self-starting or initiate by others, but the individual is wired to get things done at any price. On the other side, you can find calm. This competency is the ability to ignore stress or even not to be in pressure at all, to operate from an internal state of peace.

Our culture prefers productive, but productive is coming with an expensive personal toll. It impacts your soul and body, and eventually, you wear off or sicking tired from what you are doing. Your next step is to look for other places to work. Being just calm is usually related to laziness or unwillingness to perform and work for any common goals.

As chaos and order, finding the right gray area that works for you is what we all need to seek.

Slide3

The model

A good model is a simple model! This model takes chaos and order and puts them horizontally in a box. The two sides of the box are red, the middle is green, and between the green and red, you can find yellow. The colors depict the gray area (green) as the best area between chaos and order. The same logic applies to productive and calm. They position vertically in the box. The shared green space is where you want to aim and find how to reach. The green area (the black circle) is the balance between chaos-order and productive-calm.

Slide4

The next step of the model is to help you identify where your organization on nine different rectangles within the box. Those nine squares colors follow the following logic: The center X axile in the box is the optimum balance between productive and calm. The Y axile is the optimum between chaos and order. Therefore, the center of the box is green, as this is the optimum you want to reach. Any other rectangles on the X-axis and Y-axis are yellow as you can transform your business to green. All the squares on the four sides of the box are red. If your organization is in the red rectangle, you have a problem.

Slide5

Each rectangle in the box defines the combination between the four opposites it depicts.

After you find where is your organization placed on the nine squares, the model is suggesting what your options to reach the green area are by using arrows.

Slide6

How to find Productive-Calm border

While it is relatively easy to find out your business preference between chaos and order, it is more complicated to find out what is all the people preference between productive and calm. What I’ve done every time that I ran this model is assessing individuals on this scale and using the average. I did it for sixty people, and it took me one hour. I don’t have right now any method how to do it for more prominent groups. If you have any ideas, please contact me.

What’s next

There are two more specific guidelines that I’m working on right now. The first one is defining a set of questions that will help anyone that is using this model to understand where his organization position between the four edges of this model.

The second guide focuses on actions one should take to transform his organization from one square to another.


2 Comments

From the free economy to a free company – Galaxies · December 15, 2018 at 5:53 pm

[…] I mentioned before in my post about Chaos and Order, The mixed market is probably the best place to be as it is the gray area between two opposites […]

Running Companies on Complex Adaptive Systems – Distributed Control – Galaxies · January 9, 2019 at 2:04 pm

[…] principle maintains organization in the gray area between chaos and order that is crucial for business flow […]

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