Tag Archives: chaos

Works Well in Chaos

“What is different about being a Manager?” I asked.

Gerald was quiet. His new Manager had been a great Supervisor, but was having difficulty.

“You have a great employee, team player, always shows up, works well under pressure, your go-to guy in a pinch. What is so different about being a manager?”

Gerald began slowly, “The things he is failing on, are things that go more slowly. He works well in a bit of chaos, but as a Manager, I would expect him to prevent some of that chaos. It’s almost as if he allows the chaos to emerge, so he can show off his stuff. I want him to work on a system, so things are anticipated, projects get routed automatically, conflicts are resolved on paper before they happen.”

“And did he demonstrate any of that behavior before you promoted him?” I asked.

“Well, no, but we thought he would be able to figure that out.”

“Did you ever assign him tasks, management tasks, to test him on his capability to handle those assignments?”

Gerald narrowed his eyes, before his short answer, “No.”

“So, you promoted him to a Manager level, without evidence of Management capability, based on his success at a Supervisor level?”

Out of the Chaos

“Managing 20 projects is different than managing three projects,” Andrew repeated. “And, it’s not just that there are more things to do.”

“How so?” I wanted to know.

“When, you have 20 simultaneous projects, you have to look for patterns. In each of the 20 projects, what is the same and what is different? There is no sense solving the same problem 20 times, when you can solve it once.”

“What else?”

“Every project has a start-up phase, mobilization. Every project has a conclusion, substantial completion, punch out and close-out. And, every project has interior milestones. So, there are patterns to find.”


“And, if you recognize these patterns, you can build a system, a schematic, a flow chart that gives you a visual understanding how the components go together. In some cases, things become predictable, a natural sequence emerges. Some things can be done simultaneously, some things have to wait until something else is finished.”

“So, that’s the external stuff. What’s going on with you. What’s the inside story?”

Andrew stopped, looked down, then up. “Do I have what it takes. In the middle of the frenzy, will I get caught up in the weeds? Or will I have the fortitude to step back from the chaos and make mental sense of the noise?”