Riding The Wave Of Chaos

Management’s job is to minimize chaos; the businessperson’s job is to ride chaos like a surfer rides the waves. Byron L. Bissell 2012

As I was reading “Finding Free Will” by Christof Koch, an article in the May/June 2012 issue of Scientific American Mind, it came to me that a form of chaos theory is applicable to the business world. “Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, an effect which is popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

surferI and many others say that it is very important for a businessperson to have a long-range plan, but few auto body collision businesspersons actually have one, and the reason I hear all of the time is; how can I have a long-range plan when I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, let alone 5, 10, or 20 years down the road.

What makes it difficult to do long-range prediction in business is, at least, partially due to something called the butterfly effect. The phrase butterfly effect comes from chaos theory and was “coined by Edward Lorenz (a meteorologist at MIT), is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect

As a PDR repair businessperson, based on the diligent use of evidence based thinking you do have to make predictions about what the business conditions in the long-range future will most likely be and craft your plan accordingly, at the same time you know that something small can unpredictably occur in the near-term which will greatly alter the business conditions in the long-range future, this is the butterfly effect; but this does not negate the need for a plan to achieve your long-term business goals.

Think of it this way, the top surfers have a general plan of how to execute riding a wave to gain the highest level of success from engaging in surfing. But they also know that waves are subject to the butterfly effect, a small alteration of environmental conditions, for example a slight shift in wind direction or speed, can lead to big changes in the characteristics of the wave as it moves towards the beach.  The best suffers are constantly on the alert for these shifts and upon seeing the shift they immediately adjust for it, i.e. they do not throw out their general plan, but formulate an adjustment to the relevant operational level aspects of her/his general plan and they do it on-the-go.

Like the surfer, you as a PDR repair businessperson should also have a general plan of how to achieve your business goal/s, which you use to ride the wave chaos of the auto collision repair business industry.  As you ride the crest of the business chaos wave you need to be constantly on the lookout for those industry changes brought about by the butterfly effect and when you see one be ready to act to facilitate the necessary adjustments (change) in your operational level plan.  These ripples brought about through the butterfly effect provide you with possible opportunities and threats, and like the surfer if you do not see them and adjust, your ride may turn out to be less than you desire, or worse a drenching as you fall off the board.

So as a businessperson chaos is your friend and change is your friend; embrace both, learn how to use chaos to your advantage, and learn how to facilitate change in your business process.  But by all means have fun surfing those PDR business waves.

PDR Mobile….It Keeps You Pushin’

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