HR Strategy

The Butterfly Effect: Everything You Do Matters

By

Paycom Leadership

| Jun 16, 2014

Do you know that everything you do matters? Every move you make and every action you take matters, not only to you but to everyone that’s part of your life and organization today, tomorrow and even after you’re gone. Think about it for a while. Say someone creates a new accounting process, eliminating two tedious steps, essentially streamlining how your business operates moving forward. Wow, what an impact that would have on any business. See one single action can have a resounding impact on your company for years to come; this is known as the Butterfly Effect. I want to take a minute tell one of Andy Andrew’s stories from his novel, The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters. By looking at history we can see just how the Butterfly Effect works and how your businesses can harness its incredible power.

Scientists scoffed at meteorologist Edwin Lorenz’s Butterfly Effect theory. His doctoral thesis stated that a butterfly flapping its wings on one end of the world would move molecular air that would then move other molecules of air and so on. This effect could then eventually cause a hurricane on the other side of the planet. Now as crazy as it sounds, this theory holds true as physics professors in the mid-90’s proved it was accurate and viable. In fact, they proved it worked every time and not just with butterflies but with any form of moving matter, including people. History shows further proof of the Butterfly Effect and here’s one such story.

A man by the name of Joshua Chamberlain made a bold move 150 years ago, shaping one of the greatest superpowers in the world, the United States of America. This 34 year old former school teacher was a Colonel in the Union army. He earned the title of Colonel, not because he possessed skills or knowledge from a tenured career, but because he was the first volunteer from his hometown.

On July 2, 1863 Chamberlain was given specific instructions not to leave his position atop a large hill, because if he did the enemy would gain the high ground and wipe out Union forces. After his group of 300 men created a 100-yard rock wall, Chamberlain’s 20th Main squadron was attacked from the 15th and 47th Alabama. On the fourth charge Chamberlain was struck by a bullet, but none the worse from the wound he bounced up to help push enemy forces back. On the next charge Rebel forces breached the wall, but Chamberlain’s team was able to push them back down the hill; only now, Chamberlain’s platoon was out of ammunition and down to 80 men.

His men were ready to sound the retreat, but Chamberlain wasn’t prepared to give up yet. At that same time more Confederate troops from the Texas division showed up, but Chamberlain knew he had to make a gutsy decision, thus ordering his men to fix their bayonets and charge. That day 80 men without ammunition captured over 400 of the enemy, winning the battle of Gettysburg and shaping America into the country it would become today.

If Chamberlain hadn’t made the decisions he did 150 years ago then later history might have turned out very different. When Hitler and his troops swept across Europe in the 1940’s, there would not have been a United States of America to stand in the way. When Hirohito systematically invaded the islands of the South Pacific, there wouldn’t have been a united anything, much less a country strong enough, wealthy enough and powerful enough to fight and win two major battles at the same time for the protection of the world.

You see Chamberlain is a human example of the Butterfly Effect. One guy made a decision 150 years ago and the effects still ripple through our lives today. This is the Butterfly Effect at its best and it’s happening all around your organization on a daily basis, but are you advocating it with your employees?

People within your organization are no less an example of the Butterfly Effect than Chamberlain was because everything they do matters. Every move and action made by your employees matters so be sure your organization is harnessing the power of the Butterfly Effect. Recognize this when you see and reward those who are making a profound impact on your business, because they are shaping the future of your company one flap at a time.