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Topics: Career Development, Leadership, Teams
Managing in Chaos. Is A Necessary Skill for Managers and Leaders?
During the working day, today was really a stressful day, everything happening at the same time, things that didn't work, reminded me some of the forces of chaos.

1 - Change is the Only Constant
2 - Even Leaders Tend to Fail
3 - The Nervousness of the Leader
4 - Everything Happens at Once.

In my case, I tend to subdivide tasks to simplify, delegate, obtain extra support of the team, postpone non-urgent and unimportant situations for other days and focus on what really brings value.

What strategies as project manager do you take to overcome these days?
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Alexandre -

Project management does not have an answer for chaos. Agile isn't even suited for chaos. Anti-fragility is perhaps one model for it, but that hasn't been refined sufficiently to help individuals and organizations move forward.

When faced with chaos, you hope to have a team which is self-organized, and confident in their abilities to be able to transition the chaos to at least a complex situation which then can lend itself to a project management lens.

Kiron
...
1 reply by Alexandre Costa
Feb 13, 2020 3:12 AM
Alexandre Costa
...
kiron,

Tank you for your contribution

Alexandre.
Alexandre,

Chaos to the one is structure for the other. It is only in your brain.
As project managers our core purpose is to lead others from chaos to order, from insecurity to safety, from fear to hope.

The first thing, manage your emotions, there should not be stress (and no fear, no anger, no frustration). Not saying, suppress them but control them. You make them up in your own head anyhow. Stress is a downward spiral in efficiency and self confidence. Many techniques out there to learn how to do that.

Second, analyse the situation and find patterns, use models that help you moving from chaos to order, from problem to solution. Many techniques apply here and you mentioned some.

I would say, if work requests come in uncontrolled, start controlling them e.g. with the principles of portfolio/demand management.
Since you have to balance the work at hand with the available capacity and competency, in the long term empowering people helps, in the midterm asking for help.

Work on your own leadership maturity and resilience, look at EI, active listening, your ethical foundation etc.
For resilience checkout the driven resilience app (or other similar tools).
Get a mentor.

Good luck.
...
1 reply by Alexandre Costa
Feb 13, 2020 3:20 AM
Alexandre Costa
...
Thomas,

Thank you for your detailed thoughts a always learn something with them. As everything almost all is in your mind, it's our Pandora box , when opened we never know what will happen, that's why we should train all our skills to be prepared to all situations.
When i was in the army i always keep repeating to my team that training is the best way to be prepared to all scenarios, but in practice i knew we are never prepared for all. So adaptability, Fast thinking, complex Thinking, Emotion Control and then improvise and unscramble are require for handle the expected unexpected.

Alexandre
I determine which 3 tasks are my highest priority for the day. This way even if everything else spins out of control, I do not leave until those 3 tasks are completed.

If chaos is increasingly common I try to block off 30 minutes to sit back and determine if there are any common factors creating or contributing to the chaos. For any identified factors within my control, I make sure to implement a plan to improve or eliminate them. Sometimes its a matter of me rushing to finish everything when it would be okay to let a matter or two go into next week.
...
1 reply by Alexandre Costa
Feb 13, 2020 3:26 AM
Alexandre Costa
...
Angela,

As persons every one of us as is way of to deal with situations, I imagine that it will never be the same and will always be in accordance with our personality and skills.

Thank you for sharing your opinion.

Alexandre
Alexandre, thank you for sharing your day with us. These days do happen from time to time, but they help to shape the person we are today and will be.
As a professional, we have to take time to recognize that moments are fleeting, even the tough ones. And just that we can recognize that tough moments are growth moments can make it that much easier.
Good conversation and a nice libation can help, too. :) Cheers.
...
2 replies by Alexandre Costa and Andrew Craig
Feb 13, 2020 3:27 AM
Alexandre Costa
...
Adrew,

Tank you for participating in the discussion, my purpose was to know how the other members addressed this situations.

Alexandre
Feb 13, 2020 6:05 AM
Andrew Craig
...
Alexandre - Thank you, for your thoughts
Hi Alexandre,

Even if it is chaotic, loss of control is a state that must be avoided.

I first imagine the problem that is occurring from a bird's-eye view.
That way, even if it looks like a disorder, you will always find it relevant.
Then connect the related issues and start with the largest chunk.
The next big chunk delegates the problem to a trusted member.
...
1 reply by Alexandre Costa
Feb 13, 2020 3:24 AM
Alexandre Costa
...
Hi Takeshi San,

You have addressed an important issue: chaos and loss of control, although they may be related, their correlation is not mandatory, as you can be in chaos and be in total control, , or be in a simple and calm situation and not having control of anything.
Tank you for your contribution, it was a point that was well remembered.

Alexandre
Feb 12, 2020 5:27 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Alexandre -

Project management does not have an answer for chaos. Agile isn't even suited for chaos. Anti-fragility is perhaps one model for it, but that hasn't been refined sufficiently to help individuals and organizations move forward.

When faced with chaos, you hope to have a team which is self-organized, and confident in their abilities to be able to transition the chaos to at least a complex situation which then can lend itself to a project management lens.

Kiron
kiron,

Tank you for your contribution

Alexandre.
Feb 12, 2020 6:30 PM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
...
Alexandre,

Chaos to the one is structure for the other. It is only in your brain.
As project managers our core purpose is to lead others from chaos to order, from insecurity to safety, from fear to hope.

The first thing, manage your emotions, there should not be stress (and no fear, no anger, no frustration). Not saying, suppress them but control them. You make them up in your own head anyhow. Stress is a downward spiral in efficiency and self confidence. Many techniques out there to learn how to do that.

Second, analyse the situation and find patterns, use models that help you moving from chaos to order, from problem to solution. Many techniques apply here and you mentioned some.

I would say, if work requests come in uncontrolled, start controlling them e.g. with the principles of portfolio/demand management.
Since you have to balance the work at hand with the available capacity and competency, in the long term empowering people helps, in the midterm asking for help.

Work on your own leadership maturity and resilience, look at EI, active listening, your ethical foundation etc.
For resilience checkout the driven resilience app (or other similar tools).
Get a mentor.

Good luck.
Thomas,

Thank you for your detailed thoughts a always learn something with them. As everything almost all is in your mind, it's our Pandora box , when opened we never know what will happen, that's why we should train all our skills to be prepared to all situations.
When i was in the army i always keep repeating to my team that training is the best way to be prepared to all scenarios, but in practice i knew we are never prepared for all. So adaptability, Fast thinking, complex Thinking, Emotion Control and then improvise and unscramble are require for handle the expected unexpected.

Alexandre
Feb 12, 2020 9:28 PM
Replying to Takeshi Miyaoka
...
Hi Alexandre,

Even if it is chaotic, loss of control is a state that must be avoided.

I first imagine the problem that is occurring from a bird's-eye view.
That way, even if it looks like a disorder, you will always find it relevant.
Then connect the related issues and start with the largest chunk.
The next big chunk delegates the problem to a trusted member.
Hi Takeshi San,

You have addressed an important issue: chaos and loss of control, although they may be related, their correlation is not mandatory, as you can be in chaos and be in total control, , or be in a simple and calm situation and not having control of anything.
Tank you for your contribution, it was a point that was well remembered.

Alexandre
Feb 12, 2020 7:01 PM
Replying to Angela Baldwin
...
I determine which 3 tasks are my highest priority for the day. This way even if everything else spins out of control, I do not leave until those 3 tasks are completed.

If chaos is increasingly common I try to block off 30 minutes to sit back and determine if there are any common factors creating or contributing to the chaos. For any identified factors within my control, I make sure to implement a plan to improve or eliminate them. Sometimes its a matter of me rushing to finish everything when it would be okay to let a matter or two go into next week.
Angela,

As persons every one of us as is way of to deal with situations, I imagine that it will never be the same and will always be in accordance with our personality and skills.

Thank you for sharing your opinion.

Alexandre
Feb 12, 2020 8:58 PM
Replying to Andrew Craig
...
Alexandre, thank you for sharing your day with us. These days do happen from time to time, but they help to shape the person we are today and will be.
As a professional, we have to take time to recognize that moments are fleeting, even the tough ones. And just that we can recognize that tough moments are growth moments can make it that much easier.
Good conversation and a nice libation can help, too. :) Cheers.
Adrew,

Tank you for participating in the discussion, my purpose was to know how the other members addressed this situations.

Alexandre
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