I have had a number of conversations recently with people who were lamenting the state of disorganization in their companies. The stories revolve around people spending too much time getting stuff done due to a lack of process or an inability of others to follow process. Apparently this results in much crazy making and general confusion.
I thought back to places I worked years ago and I must admit until recently, disorganization was not as much of a problem. Things didn’t happen as fast and changes weren’t needed quite as often. So when disorganization occurred as it inevitably did, there was enough time to sort it out before it became soul destroying.
But I have worked in several places recently that were crazy places and in one in particular, process was not valued so the place just got crazier the more people there were. This was supposed to be a good thing as it was supposed to foster innovation. I guess some people think they thrive in a state of constant turmoil.
I’m working now with a client that devolves into confusion on a regular basis as the company grows and experiences new growth pains. Each new situation results in disorganization but the difference is that the people there actually like the addition of process as they see how it reduces complexity and saves them time. So whenever there is confusion, we work to add small light processes to eliminate the nonsense.
The difference between the two places though is a willingness to embrace process, people who will step up to develop it, and an appreciation of how to implement process.
And I think that this is the essential difference between sanity and crazy-making. There are not enough workplaces in the knowledge economy that embrace process and as these organizations grow they become more and more disorganized. In these places, disorganization is the new normal.