We have been thinking about leading in complexity for many years, and we even wrote a book together called Simple Habits for Complex Times, which was meant to help leaders grow more capable of leading during times thick with complexity, change, and uncertainty. Leading in complexity is counterintuitive and unnatural in many ways—we can grow better able to handle it, but that growth takes some intention, some coaxing.
Now, though, we are no longer simply (simply!) trying to lead in complexity. We’re trying to lead on the edge of chaos. Where complexity offers us patterns to make sense about, chaos is patternless. Where complexity allows us to see the connections between cause and effect—albeit afterwards—in chaos those connections are not clear even long after the event.
This article talks about how leadership on the edge of chaos requires decisive and sometimes significant action without full knowledge of what that action will do.