How do you react when you face change, uncertainty and chaos?

How many people we have in this room? This was the first question asked in our workshop with the topic Leading through change, uncertainty and chaos. At that time I didn’t have any clue what we’re going to do in this workshop. So, there were 15 people and we were asked to divide in to two groups with same amount of women and men and we had to make sure that we don’t know each other before.

‘Here are instructions for the game we’re going to play today. Read them carefully together outside of the room in ten minutes and make sure everyone knows the rules of the game when you come back’, our workshops facilitator said. Ok, so we’re going to play some game here, I thought and we went to read the instructions. Because of the limited time, one of us, read them aloud and rest of tried to understand the idea of the game. I was confused, I didn’t understand what the game was all about, it sounded like chess, but with different rules.

I was relieved that the guy, who was reading the instructions, seemed to understand the game and it looked like he wasn’t the only one. So, I tried to listen their strategic planning and figure out what is going to be my role in this game. I was also relieved that I wasn’t the only one who did not understand what is going to happen. After a while, it seemed like no one really knew how to play this game, but we were out of time, so we decided just play and see what’s going to happen.

Our opponents in the game were as confused as we were and we all just started to make our moves. Game board was made from papers on the floor and we were pawns plus we had some papers to be the rest of the pawns. I had a paper note in my back that I was the captain and everyone took one place from the game board. At first we had 1 minute time to plan and make our moves and after a while it shortened to half a minute. I didn’t know what I could do or where should I go or move the pawns, but I thought that I’ll go with the flow and I’ll learn while I watch what the others are doing.

Quite soon I realized that no one was an expert in this game and I started to participate in decision making. In the end of the day, we couldn’t finish the game because we ran out of time, but I think every participant learned something from this experience. After the game, we had a good discussion about our feelings in this kind of chaotic situation where everyone was feeling uncertain and the surroundings were changing. We also thought that what we could have done better in this situation. It turned out that the game was Stratego and you can play it with a big group and learn how people handle unclear situations. This ability to face uncertainty is something what you can practise and exploit also in your private life.

I think in today’s business environment it is very important how leaders act in situations like this, because they are the role models and they act as an example to their group. ‘People follow behaviour, not strategies, not processes’, said Andreas Forsberg, Founder and CEO of Leading High Performance Ltd in his key note about Leading high performance and I agree on that.

This workshop was part of the Finland Youth to Business Forum where I participated on 1st of November at Aalto University. This blog post is a part of SID course The Current Topics and it’s written by SID student Minna Myyryläinen.

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