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The Chaos Filter

We are surrounded by uncertainty. Many long-standing organizations are facing disruption. Spaces that touch our everyday lives are changing, drastically and rapidly. Two industries I work in—retail and automotive—for example, are going through an upheaval. Retail is moving away from traditional in-store shopping toward an omni-channel experience. Automotive is moving away from a mass manufacturing of vehicles toward human transportation solutions.

In the face of such uncertainty, I work with my clients on what I call The Chaos Filter.

It is a framework that I use to reduce anxiety and as a result, help them perform optimally without contributing to or being negatively impacted by the surrounding chaos. At its best, The Chaos Filter creates the mental and physical space to focus on their own actions and behaviors.

First, I ask my clients to mentally fast forward three years. Then, we organize the details of that future vision into three buckets.

What Will Not Change: Core aspects of the industry/organization/work that will remain constant despite market disruption (i.e. people still need to move around, people still need clothes)

What Will Change: New market entrants/business models and increased efficiencies/technologies/commoditization/customer needs

What Has Yet to be Determined: This is your target of opportunity 

Rooting ourselves in what will and what will not change, gets our arms around uncertainty. Narrowing the scope of chaos enables us to:

  • Anchor our fears

  • Know where to focus efforts and energies

  • Strategize around knowns

  • Reduce the amount of complexity that we perceive in the environment

  • Understand and trust that past experiences led to us where we are

  • Hear the signal and not the noise

  • Act with a clear mind

We are living in a highly uncertain world. We’ve all faced upheaval, in the business world and in our personal lives. Will you get caught up in the chaos?

Anchoring yourself in the knowns and seeing a path through chaos helps to manage uncertainty, navigate ambiguity and build resilience—three key elements of human success and three aspects of true leadership. 

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