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  • Stephanie Elie

COVID, Chaos, and Organizational Growth

We have been hearing a lot about these uncertain times. So much so that you may be tired of hearing it - I am. To counter, lot’s of stories have been published and passed around the world’s collective social media showcasing the care and compassion humanity is capable of. However, these stories show birthday parties, baby showers, and singing for essential workers - not the reality for many small businesses. Small businesses are particularly susceptible to closure, financial lose, and future uncertainty. While economic relief is helpful, small businesses need to know how to rise from the ashes of the pandemic with a roadmap for success.

Chaos theory crosses many different fields of study, but provides a theoretical context to begin conceptualizing a positive and enduring way forward. “Chaos theorists insist that much “order emerges naturally because of unpredictable interaction” and that far from “being a meaningless void, chaos is the source of creativity and construction in nature and in social dynamics” (Scott, 2016, p. 100). We are in control of our response to the chaos and the destruction or creativity produced from it. It’s just a matter of how.

Covid-19 and it’s dizzying array of implications feels everywhere, all at once, and highly flammable. However, it has the ability to be the catalyst for truly a transformative life, individually, globally, and organizationally. Modern life has been lived at a frenetic pace. Living this was leads us to desire a map for the “dead mechanically connected world” (Tsoukas, 2011, p. 320). The inclination is not to take the time to attend to the small moments that make up our life, but to rush about searching for the silver bullet that will make everything better. The answer comes from attending to each pre-understanding, linguistically formed, dynamic moment that constructs our organizational life.

Simply put, if we use the uncertainty, chaos, and time as points of quiet reflection on where and how our organizations are, we can harness the catalyst of creativity capable of catapulting us far beyond our pre-quarantine outlooks. If there were ever a time for radical creativity this is it. Life will most certainly be different once the bans are lifted or modified. How can you position your organization to to harness this influx of forced new uncertainties and be more agile for the next set of unforeseen circumstances? Grabbing a compass out of the chaos and charting a new organizational roadmap is a good place to start.

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