The Butterfly Effect In The Workplace – 5 Small Changes That Will Make A Difference

Roses and Butterflies by my daughter. It is the current backdrop to my video conference calls i.e. on the wall behind me.

What is the Butterly Effect?

The Butterfly Effect the foundation of Chaos Theory, along with Chaos Management (Tom Peters) and the future, are things I am keenly interested in. However, I have never been a great fan of the former regarding its use in films and movies. However, I was watching the Kdrama Alice the other day where the Butterfly Effect, as a concept, was put in its place.

The Butterfly Effect by Edward Lorenz saw him ask the question “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”

In essence, he posed his question to illustrate the idea that some complex dynamical systems we find in nature exhibit unpredictable behaviors. In particular, small variances in the initial conditions could have profound and widely divergent effect on the system’s outcomes. It was never meant as a theorem to change time.

The One Percenters!

Photo by cottonbro on

Many years ago, world renown customer service expert and colleague, George Aveling was assisting us at the Office of Energy develop a customer survey experience that was based on “our commitment to you.” George and I had many enlightening discussions regarding investing in small changes that have a big impact (the one percenters as he calls them). Examples are:

  • Putting in place a water cooler or bottles for customers;
  • Have a cafe bar and pods for clients;
  • Put a toy box in reception for the children of customers;
  • Ensure there is clear signage in the reception area;
  • Have in place relevant door and desk signage;
  • Simplify forms and key documents as much as possible.

A side conversation with George along the way included him saying how I was ahead of the curve and suggesting, perhaps, I should leave the public sector to be a senior consultant, perhaps in a company like his, or on my own. Of course, I was a relatively young man at the time and quite flattered.

Five Small Changes

Whether these changes will provide a different future for you remains to be seen. However, I invite you to dive in and see what you think:

1. Read something meaningful each week

After my discussions with George, I recommenced using my time on the train journey to and from work to read either a book or key journals like the Harvard Business Review. We have inquiring minds – all of us. We just forget sometimes. There is something of interest out there for everybody.

2. When faced with a dilemma, write it down

Writing a problem down (or typing it up) helps your headspace. Use a whiteboard even! A simple strategy such as drawing up a list of positive and negatives regarding the problem will give you peace of mind. You can then start to work out your priorities in solving your issue from there.

3. Find yourself a mentor or coach

This is often said, but it is so true. My mentor at the time is also a great colleague and friend. He had an illustrious career as an electrical engineer and senior manager, both here and in the UK. He was a key part of the reform that the energy industry underwent back in the day.

We formed a braintrust with other like minded people at the office and during lunch time we would contemplate how to do things better using past, present and the latest leadership and management practices.

4. Work with the best

I can honestly say, I had the opportunity to work with George. He is the best and I used that opportunity to develop some great customer service initiatives. I have worked with so many other leaders in their industries, and I have always found myself welcomed. Let them see the real you and what you can offer.

5. Find a training program that will change you!

I was fortunate that my workplace at the time offered to pay for me to undertake a 12 month leadership and management program. This program still exists to this day, and it is a life changing experience. In terms of cost, it wasn’t all that much. With the change it brought about in me, it inspired my manager to undertake this program the following year 😊 And he went on to be a fabulous and influential CEO too.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

What small change have you used to make a big difference in your life?

On a final note, Linda has often said to me, “draft Sean” is still better than what most people would expect from you on a good day – in other words do good work, but there is no need to be perfect.

10 Comments on “The Butterfly Effect In The Workplace – 5 Small Changes That Will Make A Difference”

  1. “do good work, but there is no need to be perfect” has been my motto for years, though my husband still says I am a perfectionist. Ha! I have been trained to overthink because of working as an analyst for decades. ❤️🦋🌀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I often end up rolling my eyes at misinterpretations of the Butterfly Effect as well. Small changes do have sometimes surprising effects, like changing the lighting or just smiling at people. That’s really more interesting than weird time travel stuff anyway.

    I wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Original Outstanding Blogger Award. I’m not sure if you do award posts or not, but I just love the way you approach both your workplace advice and your personal posts with an inquisitive, creative perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Ceri, thank you so very much for the nomination. It means a lot to me and I will give it some serious thought. Also, thank you for your kind comments regarding my blogging style. I use the same approach with the training I conduct as well. I hope you are well and I look forward to going through your next post soon 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The five changes you mentioned are actually things I struggle with. When I have a problem I tend to drown and become consumed by it. I also have a mentor that I never sound ideas off so he might as well not exist. Small changes do have a lasting effect regardless of how small they may seem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate where you are coming from, Shelly. The moment I feel I am drowning, I look at what I need to do and dig into my bag of tricks.

      The secret to mentors is to book a time in with them and then make sure you stick with it. I was always fortunate with my mentor that we were in close proximity for a number of years. We would walk around the block at lunch time, or eat somewhere nearby and bounce ideas of each other. Then our lunchtime get togethers grew into a bit of a think tank with others at work. This led to us eventually rolling out some big changes back then.


    • Thank you for dropping by, and I am very glad you found something useful. It’s quite surprising how writing a dilemma down will help crystallise a clear thought or plan of action 😊


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