“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu quotes (Chinese General and Author, b.500 BC)
Project Management applies the tactics required to implement a strategy. Therefore understanding strategy is necessary to understand the value that a specific Project brings to your organization. However, we do this in a chaotic world!
“Chaos in the world brings uneasiness, but it also allows the opportunity for creativity and growth.” Tom Barrett
Chaos as defined by www.Dictinary.com is, “a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chaos). Often in the 21st century in the world of government and business, things do appear very chaotic. Just a lack of organization or order, the massive amounts of information, and/or tsunamis of change can causes chaos. However, we must not ignore the warring groups of competing political and economic interest battling for turf and power that also causes chaos. Throughout history, some forces, try to stabilize while others engineer economic and political storms to “agitate” and “use crises” to “fundamentally transform” societies. In addition, in business normal competition naturally introduces chaos within entire industries, as outdated and obsolete products and services leave voids or whirlpools to drown the unprepared. These storms often engulf our families, businesses and other organizations in major changes during chaotic times. Therefore, “the storms of chaos” is a perfect metaphor for our chaotic times.
Here we use the “Storms of chaos” model to describe the normal state of disorder and confusion found in our daily competitive business environment, which brings our organization “winds of change.”  Today we are experiencing the same types of forces that we experienced in the 1940s during the Second World War. In general, the forces may be stormier at times but the pressures for change are consent.
Sybolism of The Storms of Chaos Model
The Ship in the Storm:
As storm often describe chaos, ships often describe organizations. Probably, you have heard entire nations referred to as ships of state or large organizations described as ships. The metaphor is useful to describe how hard it is to turn those ships or for organizations to change course. A storm helps us to visualize the abstract concept of chaos and helps us to better plan our actions and manage change.
In a chaotically changing environment, one never knows what is going to happen next. The chaotic changes seem to happen in random patterns similar to waves on a body of water. In smaller markets, similar to smaller bodies of water (like a pond), these waves are easier to understand and forecast. However, in the largest markets, like oceans, all the rules change and forecasting change becomes more difficult as chaos hits the organization from all sides.
To illustrate chaos, I often explain how overwhelming and complicated life can become by using a very visible prop. I take a stack of papers and ask the audience to imagine that they are dreaming and in this dream they hold a similar stack of papers. Only their stack represents their life’s work. It symbolizes every piece of work they have ever produced for any reason, all on unnumbered sheets of paper. I ask the audience to imagine that all their assets and lifesavings rely on delivering this report to the someone across town, maybe the IRS. They must use this stack to prove that they have earned their incomes. Then as they open the door to go outside to get into their cars, imagine that a mighty gust of wind takes this stack, tearing it from their hands and exploding it down their street for several blocks. As I throw my stack into the air – sheets fly in all different directions.
“Now what do we do?” The answers, “Cry,” “Run and Collect the Papers,” “Call for Help,” and so on. Then someone says, “Start categorizing the papers in manageable groups.” This is exactly what you do with chaos. Think about managing chaos in terms of collecting all the information we can and then categorizing it into manageable groups.
By adding the storm scenario, as in the picture of a ship on the ocean in the figure above we can build a more effective picture of strategy and organize strategy into five forces effecting our organization:
- The waves represent the foreseeable future events. Like waves, one could actually see and steer into or prepare for these events.
- The lightning represents those unforeseeable events. We know lightning exist, but we never really know if, when, or where it will strike. However, we can manage risk and prepare for emergencies.
- The buoyancy represents the allied forces. Buoyancy is everything helping our organization stay afloat. It is the supporting markets, communities, vendors, and societal and political forces helping us achieve our mission. We can build relationships, supply chains, treaties/contracts, and then support and build up our allies.
- The storm represents the enemy. The storm is everything working against us, trying to hold the organization down or sink our ships. The storm is any threatening force keeping us from a successful mission. These enemy forces may include competition, negative (to us) societal and political forces, forces of war, taxes, the weather, or any other enemy force. The storm, like buoyancy, is in the eyes of the beholder. One organization’s storm could be another’s buoyancy. We can master the martial arts of business and competition.
- The ship represents the organization. The ship gives us the framework for planning. The other forces are mostly external, while the ship represents the organization. We can do things like – train our sailors, plot our course, navigate our ship, use tactics, supply provisions, and build our ship for specific environments. Nevertheless, everything we can do revolves around the ship.
We can apply the SWOT Analysis to the five forces of the storm. The SWOT Analysis is a simple tool that uses an acronym to spell out four strategic issues to address when planning
- Opportunities, and
The Opportunities and Threats are most often external but could also address internal issues. The Strengths and Weaknesses most often describe internal organizational conditions.
 Stevens, C.A.; Jim Nichols; Tawana M. Gardner; Joe Daily: “Step 1: Current Organizational Trends and A Basic Change Management Model,” American Society of Engineering Management, 21st National Conference Proceedings, October 4-7, 2000.
- Uses: For Defining Strategy
- Autor: Craig A. Stevens