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Rationality and Chaos

An environment’s rational attitude normally interprets the non-predictable as chaos. That which cannot be accessed through cause and effect causalities, will, correspondingly, be processed reactively. In organisations which are very rationally structured, this phenomenon is called ‘fire-fighting’. Everything which is surprising and has not been reckoned with, is seen as fire, which must be extinguished, and brought back into proper order. Therefore, ‘chaos’ is interpreted as undesired, a nuisance and a sign of erroneous planning. But this is not the way for an organisation to learn from that, which it sees as an error:

  • The quick solutions that have been found, are not usually absorbed into the memory of the organisation. Therefore, little confidence is created that next time things will be different.
  • The problems are solved, but are not understood, or wrongly understood as errors, so that the attention towards early and weak signals are not developed.
  • The fear in the organisation about the unexpected is high, so that the control activities also remain high and one attempts to gain control of the uncontrollable