Silent Anarchy

When one is engaged with a new Client, you sometimes must ask; “How did they end up doing things this way?”

I usually attribute it to bureaucratic inertia. Once something starts in an organization, inertia takes over and it does not stop.

Obviously that is not true all the time. Errors are corrected, inertia halted, courses righted and normal operations resume. So clearly organizations have self-correcting mechanisms.

So why do they not always seem to work?

At times, a silent anarchy takes hold.

Anarchy is that condition of mind or methods in which you cannot stop yourself. It is the loss of that self-control which can return to the normal. It is not anarchy because men are permitted to begin uproar, extravagance, experiment, peril. It is anarchy when people cannot end these things.

G.K. Chesterton

Organizations lose their ability to self correct when their leadership ignores information that does not conform to their world view. When what has clearly failed again and again is tried once more, because the alternative does not match how things ‘should‘ be.  Monitoring and reporting mechanisms are modified are skewed to reflect the acceptable view and become divorced from reality.  Those trying to correct the course are silenced and anarchy spreads.

People, businesses, and governments can all fall prey to this silent anarchy.It takes mature leadership to stop extreme behavior; to acknowledge what is not working and to stop it.  It requires the non-leaders to not be afraid to tell their leaders that things are not working.   Anarchic organizations will collapse; those who would not correct the course lose power; and there is a spontaneous willingness for those left behind  to stop the anarchy.

Is there still a normal to return to when this happens is the question.

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