Chao-Dynamics for Managing the Destabilised VUCA World

By Peter Zoeftig (United Kingdom)

Dealing with the experience of disruption, destabilisation and the choice of actions and words when we meet with ‘a fork on the path’, is something I have been working with in workshops for many years. The embodied experience of this kind of troublesome event at work and life can lead to ill-health, all kinds of destabilisation, and also mental health issues. This brings into account questions relating to good team-dynamics, self-mastery, collaboration and personal insights, influencing and impacting successfully, and of course emotional intelligence.

As mentioned in my article in Issue 20 of iCN and continuation here where I examined the use of embodied techniques in coaching workshops) I plan to continue the discussion surrounding chaodynamics and what this teaches us for finding meaning and direction in the VUCA world we increasingly inhabit.

Feeling disrupted? Destabilised? Disoriented? Demotivated?

Or, Going beyond Management by Objectives

It has been eloquently argued (Susan David, D Clutterbuck, D Megginson, et al, in Beyond Goals 2013) that the many elaborate virtuous ideas of coaching – often using sophisticated goal-theory models – mask what we should be doing by recognising life and work’s ‘elegant non-linearity’ i.e. that life’s solutions themselves emerge from within the coaching relationship, and that the track that is followed can have many ups and downs and twists and turns, and may not have a specific destination in the way that linear models and coaching contracts often presume.

In the increasingly ‘normalised’ VUCA world in which we live, this dilemma is more and more central to our lives.

No Curriculum

Every person has their own inner syllabus that they are working out as they go along; there is no ‘correct syllabus’ or ‘curriculum’ that the coach can apply to how this conversation develops. A chaodynamics approach is one which allows insights to emerge in their own natural way within the available boundaries. Every energy-rich system tends to overload – and to disrupt and ultimately to decay – however, goal-theory coaching fails to understand that any overload of data can contribute to creating yet more destabilisation.

Dynamic Systems

Dynamic systems rely on self-regulation and the notion of ‘emergent goals’, not fixed performance targets but mastery goals. Chaodynamics, when experienced in workshops, provide insights into the embodied nature of disruptive actions and policies and allow for a system-wide readjustment of perspective on a personal, team, organisations and even societal level. They allow us to open discussion of what really matters, and escape the misleading fixed- or contracted-goals route which can negatively become a crutch by which to avoid what may be – albeit possibly painfully – a beneficial discovery.

This kind of ‘mastery mindset’ avoids panic and allows us to embrace negatives as useful data and acts towards an emerging opportunity for serendipity. It involves an approach that leads to self-concordance and congruent adjustments of understanding.

Not Chaos Theory

‘Chaos theory’ defines chaos as ‘low agreement + low predictability’, contrasted with ‘linear success’, defined as ‘high agreement + high predictability’. It thus drives people away with a deeper understanding of how systems develop destabilised features, demotivation, confusion, disruption, ill-feeling and crisis, and towards a need for ‘normalisation’ around new linear success ideals, which mask the systemic issues altogether!

Chaodynamics is very different.

Source: iCN Issue 38  (Life Coaching: Professional Growth & Direction); pages 32-35

About Peter Zoeftig

Peter has over 30 years’ experience of teaching and coaching, having worked in over a dozen International establishments, in Italy, France, Belgium, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom and holds qualifications in NLP and coaching.

Peter is involved in both Personal and Business Executive Coaching at the highest levels with a special interest in the personal destablisation that accompanies change.

For any queries or comments, please write to me at  or visit