The Butterfly Effect

Richard Speight 11.04.2017

You may have heard of Edward Lorenz before - he coined the term ‘the butterfly’ effect in his Chaos Theory; one of the very few in science which is all about unpredictability, dealing with non linear things which are near impossible to predict or control

Essentially, it’s the concept that the smallest actions can cause the largest effects, just like a butterfly flapping its wings in Texas has the power to cause a hurricane in China. 

But what if we applied this notion to our working lives? I’m a self confessed control freak. I like to know where I will be, what I am doing and the results I can expect. I like to be in charge, and have an answer for everything. However, upon researching this topic, I'm a little more skeptical on my outlook. 

Have you ever come to a task and thought: there’s no point in doing that now? Or are you perhaps going through a period of demotivation where you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself? As a leader / manager, have you ever thought that making a small change, no matter how small that may be to your team, will have NO repercussions at all and still carried on with that change? 

All of these ways of thinking can be “butterfly” applied! If you’re feeling a little lost, have a think about what makes you feel good about yourself, what one thing can you do (no matter how small) that will make you feel productive and give you that feeling of job satisfaction straight after? You never know, that one small action could in time, come back to thank you in one way or another. It’s an excuse to celebrate after all, as in the world of work, it’s not always about the big ticket wins - it’s about the small steps which get you closer to your goal. Be proud of the small wins when the big wins don’t seem to be coming your way and you will go home each day feeling more productive and happier. 

So here are some ideas of small actions you can do in the workplace which could in time have some brilliant effects:

•    Offer to make your colleagues a cuppa
•    Sort out that messy spreadsheet!
•    Tidy your desk - put some flowers or a photo on there - something which makes you happy to look at
•    Get into work 5 minutes earlier - take that extra call
•    Asked to be involved in a project? Say YES!

If we all started to have the mindset of: just do it now - imagine what amazing things could happen that currently may not? We should be embracing the unpredictability and find excitement in that! After all, who doesn’t love a surprise?! 


Richard Speight's picture
Manager, Accounting & Finance, Bristol


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