By: B. Schwartzman Lucio
So, what is the “Butterfly Effect”?
In simple terms, it is how “small changes in initial conditions can lead to large-scale and unpredictable variations in the future state of the system”, as defined by Meriam-Webster. A commonly used example, although very exaggerated, is how a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a typhoon. Of course, this metaphor is very unrealistic, but helps us understand the concept of the effect.
When applied to business, the butterfly effect suggests that small actions can result in big consequences. Let’s consider the following:
Employees. They are paid to do whatever you ask them, and just like machines, the job will be done. Wrong! People like Richard Branson say that the common phrase “Client first” is in fact, “employee first”. Still, that does not change perspectives, and that is because if you treat your employees well, they are more likely to treat your clients with care. Studies indicate that happy workplaces are more effective and productive, making it more beneficial for businesses. This includes actions as little as complimenting or recognizing employees, which tend to make them feel proud and motivated to strive for more. Also, actions from employers such as offering benefits do not only attract and retain employees, but also create a positive work culture which can be passed on to the client. Therefore, we say that treating your employee first is also taking the client into consideration.
Customers are the key aspect of a business. Customers are who businesses tirelessly try to attract. But the job cannot be resumed to simply attracting customers, which is already hard enough. The problem is: retaining customers. And of course, more problems come with that, such as questions and complaints. So, taking time to reply to each of your concerned customers with empathy and care is very important for a business’s reputation, and ensures that your customers will have a positive experience.
To make this more credible, I personally have had a (not so pleasant) experience with Amazon - actually, more than one - and shockingly or not, I still love it. Items that didn’t arrive as planned and even damaged products, but I did not lose energy or hours solving this type of issue, and that is because Amazon customer service solved them with care, speed, and effectiveness, and barely questioned me. Amazingly, the day after I complained about their services, they had already shipped me a new item. On another occasion, I did not receive an item, and all it took me was two minutes to express my concerns and then my money was back in my account. Despite all these events, I don’t hold negative opinions about the company; in fact, that makes me a bigger fan of Amazon and a very loyal customer. And that is because they have treated me very well, proving that negative occurrences, which may be unfortunate (or fortunate) enough to happen to any business, should not be traumatic, and can instead, create good opinions of a company’s services.
Another vital element of a business are the stakeholders. People involved in your business deserve to be informed of what happens. A common mistake that companies make is vaguely informing their stakeholders (which includes anyone impacted by your business, including shareholders, if there are any), and that may put many of your stakeholders in distress, from your suppliers to distributors. Not to mention that strong communication with stakeholders help you strengthen relationships. So, if you need to be reminded once more: Communication is KEY!
A few other ideas that derive from this concept:
The butterfly effect can be applied to many aspects of life. But it can also be disregarded, because in fact, another piece of advice given by some business enthusiasts is that you should ignore all these theories and recipes about successful businesses, and instead, just start by small positive actions expecting nothing in return, as something truly amazing can stem from the simplest of actions.