One of the key ideas of chaos theory is that small changes (a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon) can have a big impact (a storm in
In a school with which I am associated, there has been a total turnover of staff in the office area (edge of chaos?) and several small but significant changes have occurred quite rapidly. The office now opens at 8.30,
Previously some office/admin people had been arriving earlier and the office had been informally open prior to 8.30 and they dealt with early bird parents (and other visitors) and students, and teaching staff who need to be in their classrooms by 8.30.... On any day, there were only a few of these early-bird 'customers' and for some of them the new arrangement can be 'catastrophic'.
For the rest of the school, it appears to be business as usual, except for the disruptive consequences of what might flow from the new arrangements.
Thus this small change (the butterfly) results in
(a) No consequences for most members of the school community
(b) Minor inconvenience for some, but...
(c) Very difficult situations for some individuals and some activities, and
(d) Occasionally, large scale disruption in terms of being catastrophic for all concerned and organisation as a whole.
On a small scale, the organisation is often rescued from the above by individuals and small groups (communities of practice) who absorb, contain and/or develop workarounds to deal with the disruptions and overcome the dysfunctions.
Not opening the school office until 8.30 is the butterfly that causes some storms (problems) for some people in other places and at other times . It is true that many of the problems arising are simply minor disruptions and/or some dysfunctions in other parts of the school throughout the school day. Many are hardly noticed. And there are also resultant storms in other places well beyond the school. Examples include: parents are late for work; misunderstanding occur; important matters not addressed because of the lack of an opportunity to communicate;...etc.