I will not patronise those highly intellectual individuals who read this post with an explanation of Chaos Theory. However, for the odd fish that slips the net and needs a quick explanation, see below
Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics focusing on the study of chaos—states of dynamical systems whose apparently random states of disorder and irregularities are often governed by deterministic laws that are highly sensitive to initial conditions. Chaos theory is an interdisciplinary theory stating that, within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, interconnectedness, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, and self-organization. The butterfly effect, an underlying principle of chaos, describes how a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state (meaning that there is sensitive dependence on initial conditions). A metaphor for this behaviour is that a butterfly flapping its wings in China can cause a hurricane in TexasDirectly from Wikepedia
As everyone is entirely cognisant of the above, you can of course transpose the butterfly in China to Bat Coughing in China and causing a world health crisis. And for those who have forgotten the Chaos theory formula (why would you?), it is as follows:
There are alternative formulas but this is a useful starting point. Any one of us will at some point think that life is chaotic at least once a week. Yet that Chaos, will be something like your home is a mess, you don’t whether you are coming or going ‘cos the kids are driving you mad, the dog has just ‘pooed’ in your bedroom, your partner is working late again and the oven is broken.
I would like to be slightly more theoretical and point in the direction of the Chaos Theory may have some impact on your business and as likely your life in general.
A fictitious example staring with the humble wasp …….
Someone is relaxing in their garden, in summer, having a drink. A wasp pops down and stings said person. Said person has an anaphylactic attack and is seriously unwell. The said person is the leading heart surgeon in the US. That afternoon they were about to perform major and urgent surgery on the US President. There is no replacement . The President dies. Wall Street plummets, the dollar crashes, reverberating around the world. There is a run on the banks . Nobody is in control……
I can hear the cry, but there are checks and balances to correct this sort of event ! Maybe, maybe not, but that is the point , if there are there then they exist because of the existence of Chaos Theory. Most major organisations have teams who are continually running disaster scenarios and calculating what to do if they were to happen .
Or you would like to think they would. The current situation we are all faced with is a Chaos theory starting with the humble bat.
“The impact of a huge epidemic, like a flu epidemic, would be phenomenal because all the supply chains would break down. There’d be a lot of panic. Many of our systems would be overloaded,” ……”But being ready for epidemics of different sizes, there’s a lot more we should do.”CBS News Bill Gates Davos 2017
Few took note . In the last couple of weeks the Chairman of Trailfinders, a UK travel company, announced the company could last 2 years without a booking. Why? Simply because there was £300 million in the bank. Other travel companies said that this was very impressive but he was fortunate to have such cash reserves . Not quite so straight forward…..
Trailfinders from our seemingly pathetic little start-up in 1970 opened two bank accounts. One for our clients’ money and one which belonged to us. So we knew exactly which monies were ours and which were entrusted to us. I have also set aside large reserves of cash from past profits to guard against doomsday scenarios. We have been able to refund our clients while we wait to recover your money from Airlines in the present hiatus. We have honoured our unique Financial Guarantee even where Airlines have already gone into administration, taking the risk we will get it back ourselves.Mike Gooley October 2020 Chairman & Founder Trailfinders
It would be a futile exercise to examine any governments responses, as despite warnings over many years there is little evidence that any substantial planning had been done. There is much evidence to illustrate the complete opposite.
Government’s, Institutions and commercial organisations of all types ignore the threat of Chaos, if whatever form it takes , at their own peril. We have a personal responsibility which is limited by resources, wherewithal , and education . For those who are encumbered by these restrictions, are reliant upon the very institutions, whether they are instruments of government, charities or their immediate community, that should have been considering Chaos in whatever form it appears, to come to their rescue.
Lets be quite clear, Chaos creates plenty of winners, albeit far less in numbers than the losers and in the most part far more privileged, a certain type of politician, hedge fund managers, currency traders, and market shorters to name but a few . If we accept we are in the midst of some form of Chaos now there will be those who will be benefit from it and not necessarily in a bad way. For example as some organisations will fail others will be created to take their place. However, somehow attention must be paid to those have suffered through no fault of their own. But history tells us that is unlikely to happen. Its a bit like the annual bush fires that burn all the dying grasslands, to be replaced by fresh growth. It does not take into account the price paid by those who suffer some form of loss, either in terms of wildlife or even personal loss.
In the midst of Chaos, there is always opportunitySun Tzu (shame his book is about War)
Simply speaking, I see three groups of approach . Everyone and every organisation will fall into the broad spectrum of anyone of these three. We can see all three variations within our current Chaos.
- Those that can and should look at ways of mitigating negative impacts of potential Chaos (in whatever form)
- Those that seek chaos and look for opportunities, for good or bad
- Those that are unable to do either and look to those in the first category, in the hope that they offer assistance and guidance, when needed.