People prefer to reduce chaos and increase order. “Order” is equal to predictability, and predictability makes planning and execution easier. When humans turned from hunting and gathering to agriculture, the need for predictability and planning just increased over time. The industrial revolution only increased the need exponentially. But, as someone found out hundreds of years ago, there is no order without chaos and no chaos without order, what known as Yin and Yang.
Majority of the organization that I saw and know are trying to do whatever they can to reduce chaos and increase order. By doing it they are trying to minimize unexpected and non-linear behavior, but in reality, they are also significantly damaging their organization potential to survive and thrive. Let me explain why.
Systems are collections of parts that are interacting one with each other to reach a common goal. Organizations are systems as they are collections of people and groups that interact one with each other to achieve the company goal. Organizations can be treated as complex adaptive systems (CAS) as they exhibit fundamental CAS principles like self-organization, complexity, emergence, interdependence, space of possibilities, co-evolution, and chaos.
Companies and organization, like any system, are swinging all the time between order and chaos. This swinging is creating energy as a result of the tension between chaos and order. The energy produced by the tension moves the business forward. Being stuck on one side of the pendulum, reduce business energy to the point that the business cant moves forward. Even decreasing the tension will slow you down as the environment around you also influence the energy level available for your business to move forward.
Chaos, uncertainty, and non-linearity are needed to push the business forward. Without them, the company falls into too much order. To maintain your business energy you need to promote chaos when you see too much order, and to promote order when you see too much chaos. Supporting just order is our default action, but a mistake that you want to avoid.
In reality, organizations fall into order-to-chaos and chaos-into-order loops. Each cycle will take the organization down and up again. As more energy was used to take an organization down, more energy will be used to take it upper again. Over time organization will show continuously grow.
If you are familiar with pendulum waves, organizations are pendulum waves with many elements that are swinging between order and chaos as you can see below. The main difference between organizations and pendulum waves is that the reaction between chaos and order in organizations creates energy that increases the pendulum swing. This energy will eventually reach its limitation and drop to a minimum, enforcing an organization (on the positive side) to start the chaos-order swing from the beginning or will kill the organization (on the negative side).
Those cycles as you can see in the above graph are overtime increasing not just order, but also taking the organization closer to the purpose he is seeking. Therefore make sure that you know the toolset that is needed to deal with chaos and not just to focus on achieving order.
If the graph looks familiar, you are right! This graph represents the NASDAQ from 1920 until today. And yes, the market is one of the best examples of complex adaptive systems.