Skedsheet Blog

Where we talk about the product, calendars, organization, and business

The cost of chaos

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mandelbrot 2 by lowjumpingfrog - customer came up to our booth at StonExpo and said “You’ve taken away a whole lot of chaos from our business.” Now, this wasn’t some poorly run shop, where we came in and fixed everything. They were already one of the largest and most respected fabricators in their region. Yet this guy was cheering the fact that their chaos has decreased as a result of using our software.

That got me thinking about how much chaos is actually costing us as business owners.  But how do you measure chaos?

We have chaos in many forms: customers, vendors, markets, employees… but I think the root cause of most of this chaos is uncertainty.  And the place where we have the most direct control over chaos is with our employees.

It’s the uncertainty about exactly what any person should be doing at any given moment. I’m not talking about dictating a schedule like “9:10-9:12am – bathroom break.” What I mean is this: Does every employee know exactly what they should be doing? Do they all the information they need to do that right now? 

As managers and business owners, we do a pretty good job of making sure every employee knows what they are supposed to do. If that is not the case in your business, stop reading and go fix that right now!

But the second part of the question is the cause of much of the chaos in businesses we’ve seen.  Employees may know what they need to do, but don’t have the tools. Often the information they need to do their job is incomplete, difficult to access, or ambiguous.

As  a result, you need superstar employees, you waste lots of time, and make avoidable mistakes:


If you’ve got a business with all three of those, there’s chaos.

Without access to information, you get a huge waste of time – unproductive, unhappy employees who miss deadlines or can’t deliver on promises.  And you have mistakes that lead to upset customers, higher costs of doing business, and in the end mistakes end up costing lots of time, too. 

Typically, the solution is to hire superstar employees, who can go the extra mile necessary.  But superstars are expensive, hard to find and replace, and if they get burnt out or go on vacation, you’re in big trouble.

Any one of these is a measure of chaos… but what’s the solution?  For us, it always comes back to having a system in place where any employee can get the information they need when they need it, how they need it.


Written by Harry Hollander

May 26, 2009 at 5:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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