Critical Thinking, Managing Through Chaos

March 26, 2024
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These are challenging times for industry. Chaos and dysfunction surround us both externally and internally. Now’s the time for leadership, culture management, and strategy.

For manufacturers, raw materials, packaging, energy, and equipment costs are still escalating. Internally, management and employees are faced with challenges in staffing, wages, and achieving performance expectations.

Until the catalysts of energy, inflation, and interest rates are resolved, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. While distribution and customers don’t like these conditions, they are forced to accept them, or go without. The alternative is to cease to exist.

Despite the turmoil, quality companies can grow.

The Chaos Syndrome

The Chaos Syndrome applies to management and employees as well. That is, chaos in decision making, expectations, performance, and behavior for both for management and employees. Ask any HR manager and they will tell you these are unusual times.

Chaos impacts organizational culture and perception in long term ways. Cultural chaos has substantial impact on employee health, stress, and family. And maybe your own passion for the business.

The pandemic exacted an enormous toll on business. Now, US policy is having the same effect. To survive we must improve, evolve, and adapt.   

Critical Thinking

“Critical thinking refers to the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment.”

Management is compensated to achieve objectives. The more critical thinking that occurs the more likely we are to plan for challenges.

Quality organizations with strong models of leadership, culture, and strategy achieve more objectives. They have the ability and capacity to improve, evolve, and adapt. They are better prepared for events outside of their control.

Critical thinking depends on your model or perspective of the world. It influences how we analyze, evaluate, and prioritize opportunities and challenges.

Low performing organizations are challenged to improve, evolve, and adapt to chaos and dysfunction. The fact is if your model of the world is okay with average or inconsistent performance, then that’s what you receive.

Organizational boundaries influence perspective. If there are no boundaries in decision making, anything can happen. That’s why well-defined vision, mission, and core value statements are a constant reminder to management of their boundaries.

Education is not a substitute for quality judgment. Those MBA’s are helpful, but not a substitute for relationships, experience, and common sense. That’s the conundrum business management faces.

I’ve noticed when management and employees are constantly reminded of company values, they tend to make more predictable and sustainable decisions. Conversely, if value statements have little meaning to management, they have even less value to employees. The result is customers and suppliers establish negative perception of the business.

Management determines the effectiveness of the vision, mission, and core value statements. If management chooses to live by them, most often they enforce them. When value statements are out of sight and mind, so is critical thinking.

Five Contributors to Improve Critical Thinking

Effective Communication

Effective and consistent communication is the glue connecting management, employees, and customers. Diluted or flawed communication leads to the failure of employes to understand expectations. Conversely, if management fails to listen to employees, communication fails. The final result is failure to achieve strategies and tactics.

Solution: Sharpen your message to be clear, concise, and relevant. Ask if team members understand the message and gain their feedback.  


Revenue is an outcome. Sure, we all have financial goals, it’s the way of capitalism. Ultimately sales revenue is the result of multiple departments, teams, and individuals working together to satisfy customer expectations. It’s not solely a sales function.

Customers expect 100% quality, service, and value on a consistent basis. A rating of poor in any of these three areas result in attrition. Customer attrition is a result of inconsistent performance. And the fact is, repeat and loyal customers influence and deliver revenue achievement. When management is consistently achieving quality, service, and value, critical thinking advances as well.  

Solution: Establish management systems and processes for every level of management.

Establish KPI’s for Every Department

Key performance indicators (KPI’s)  measure and benchmark critical issues. KPI’s apply metrics to every level of management and department.

We recommend 3-4 KPI’s of the most critical objectives. Equal accountability applies to every level of the business. If a team is not performing, KPI’s generally establish the why and why not.

Don’t deceive yourself, other management members, employees, and customers all take notice of poor performance.

Solution: Establish KPI’s at your top levels of management first. As they become effective, establish KPI’s at all levels of the organization.

Company Culture

Company culture establishes perception with employees, customers, and suppliers. Culture management is a job function of every manager.

Healthy cultures are an indicator of customer perception. Satisfied customers collaborate well with customer service and sales.

Most importantly, healthy cultures better retain employees and customers. The Battle of Attrition is a constant contributor to financial stress.

Solution: Complete a 360 Cultural Assessment to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the organization.


Effective strategies establish the course, speed, and achievement of the organization. There’s nothing more demoralizing for employees when a strategy is doomed from the start.

Many times, strategy is understanding what a company has the capacity to accomplish and what it does not. Throwing darts is a costly cultural and financial move.

Solution: Planning requires time, accurate information, and accountability. Ensure your team is asking the right questions about the goal.


Tacticware Business Systems focus on organizational growth and management development. We are a provider of management systems, cultural systems, and strategic systems. Each support critical thinking and the processes necessary to develop high-capacity organizations.

We train, support and guide organizations to success. Learn more about transforming your business by contacting Paul Fournier

Article Author

Paul R. Fournier is President of Tacticware Business Systems. He provides and supports business systems in Management, Culture, and Strategy.

Our systems allow organizations to go faster and further. Systems training, cultural assessments, and consistent support allow us to achieve your vision.

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Read our new book, Anonymous Cultures, The Silent Majority. Available from Amazon in paperback, hardback, Audible, and Kindle. Also available from Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, and other fine bookstores.

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