Risk Management

How to find out if your company is ‘chaos ready’

The world has been pretty chaotic lately, to say the least, and the changes and adaptations we’ve had to make as leaders over the past two years have impacted every area of our lives.

We’ve had a spotlight shown on the things that we do well. We’ve also seen the cracks that we already knew were there, forcing us to deal with them in new ways.

Challenging times can show and teach us a lot. How many of you feel better prepared now for whatever comes next after navigating the past two years? More importantly: Is your company ready for what comes next?

Yes, you have gotten really good at navigating all the changes. You’ve even used them to your advantage by seeking out and creating opportunities that all these challenges have created.

You probably have never worked harder to help your family and people, and your customers feel safe and supported throughout these turbulent times. You probably had to make changes and improvements to all your processes, including your crisis management plans.

So, does this all make your company chaos ready?

No, having a crisis management plan does not make your company chaos ready.


What’s the difference between crisis and chaos?

A crisis management plan is common in most of our companies today, and they are very important and helpful.

Depending on the nature of your business or the regulations that govern your industry, you may only have a few posters up on how to exit the building or who to call if a server goes down.

Some of you might have very extensive crisis management plans and even offer training to deal with everything from a job-site injury to a fire on the shop floor or even a cyberattack.

But before we keep going, we need to differentiate between crisis and chaos.

  • A crisis is “a time when a difficult or important decision must be made” It’s an unexpected event.
  • Chaos is “complete confusion and disorder.” It’s the reaction to the event.

You are never going to be crisis-proof, but you can be chaos ready. Things that are outside of our control are going to continue to happen, it is our reaction to those events that determine whether we spiral into chaos or thrive and find the opportunity.

5 questions that can determine if you’re chaos ready

A chaos-ready company can say yes to these 5 questions:

  1. Is everyone clear on the mission and what is expected of them to reach the endgame?
  2. Do we have a clear plan and process, and everyone is clear on their roles and responsibilities?
  3. Do we have the resources, skills and right people?
  4. Do we communicate effectively between departments and roles?
  5. Are we positive collaborators and focus on the solution?

How did you do?

If you answered yes to all these questions and think your company is totally chaos ready, then congratulations! But I invite you to consider how everyone else on the team would answer these questions.

Figure out where the chaos will most likely occur

If you had a few “no’s,” that’s great. It means you now know where your chaos is going to show up. This list of questions is more of a list of the top causes of chaos and helps you prepare for where the chaos is going to show up when a crisis hits.

The best way to be chaos ready is to know where it is going to occur. We can prepare for the things that we know are coming. For example, if most people on your team answer “no” to question 4, you know the chaos is going to show up around communication when a crisis hits.

The best use of these questions is to talk about each one as a team with open and authentic dialogue. The questions you say no to are usually your chaos causers or the things you think are causing the chaos. It is not an individual person that causes chaos, it is almost always a lack of clarity that causes a reaction that creates chaos.

Unexpected events and crises are always going to happen. Things are going to continue to change that are outside of our control. Knowing where those unexpected events cause chaos will help us prepare for them better and ideally help us choose a more effective response.

Not every crisis needs to create chaos.


Related Resources

5 priorities for CEOs when managing a crisis
3 tips for accelerating your team’s problem-solving skills

Category: Risk Management

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About the Author: Corinne Hancock

Corinne is a globally recognized leadership coach and speaker. She is a serial entrepreneur, a humanitarian, a mother of two teenage boys and a Victims Advocate for the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s department.
Corinne challenges leaders

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