Peter Lyons

Managing complexity and chaos

November 23, 2010

I read somewhere (sorry I've forgotten where by now) that as an engineering, our #1 omnipresent mandate is "manage complexity". I interpret "manage" to mean "reduce" or "prevent" or "minimize" or "mitigate" in this context. When I read this, it resonated very strongly with me.

I was recently asked for feedback on one of the managers I work with and I thought in many was, in the manager role, the mantra is "manage chaos". I think that fits nicely. When everything is clear, well-understood, prioritized, under control, the team hums along efficiently. As a team gets overwhelmed or sidetracked or confused, chaos ensues, and it seems to me the role of management to prevent/reduce/minimize/mitigate that chaos.