Chaos03 Sep 2015
[Originally posted on Medium]
“Well, once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning.” — Rust Cohle, True Detective
The default state in any growing organization is chaos. The chaos of trying to integrate new people into the culture. The chaos of trying to align everyone toward common goals. The chaos of communicating what everyone’s working on.
In the chaos, it feels like the organization is falling apart. You remember how things were so much better back in the day, when everyone could all fit around the same table at lunch. And reading about other companies, you’re convinced everyone else has it all figured out but you.
The problem is that as a company grows, you can’t rely anymore on serendipity to solve communication problems. Metcalfe’s law is working against you — at 5 employees there are 10 lines of communication between each person. At 10, there are 45 lines. At 20, there are 190. By 50 employees you’ve crossed 1,000 lines of communication — chaos.
The good news is that if you’re able to get anything accomplished as an organization amidst that chaos, the light’s winning.
This doesn’t mean it can’t be better. It probably should get better.
The first step is to understand that chaos. Then tame the chaos by designing your organization’s communication protocols in a way that works through it. TCP, not UDP.
As Metcalfe works against you, you’ll have to create processes around deliberate, structured communication. Maybe that’s adopting OKRs, making your daily standups effective, or creating weekly reports and presentations to share internally. Find the nodes and connections that are left in the chaos, and be deliberate in how you communicate to overcome it.
The light will win.