How Many Butterflies Do You Have in Your Company?

Could the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Singapore affect a hurricane in North Carolina?Can a "thank you" note open a new market in Eastern Europe?

The butterfly effect and small businessIn 1963 meteorologist Edward Lorenz announced a stunning conclusion in support of his  "Butterfly Effect" theory - that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in another location.

I first came across this amazing theory in Harry Beckwith's  must-read "Selling the Invisible" . In the book, Harry tells the story of a department store clerk who turned a client's disappointment (whose alterations weren't ready) into a major purchase. Beyond the scientific theory and the arguments over the likelihood of the butterfly's effect, the conclusion for business professionals is quite profound:  TINY CAUSES PRODUCE HUGE EFFECTS.

There are many positive examples to the Butterfly's Effect like the elderly gentleman who tried to return a a pair of tires to Nordstrom after insisting that his wife bought them there. The polite clerk told the gentleman that Nordstrom never carried tires but offered to give him a gift certificate to use at the store.


Tiny Causes Create Huge Effects! I think we can agree that negative Butterfly's Effects are too common. We could be dining at our favorite restaurant but being ignored by a waiter would cause us to never come back. We would also go out of our way to also share our decision with friends and family. Whether you believe in the theory or not, you must acknowledge the huge impact everyone on your team has on the future of your Company. Tiny causes create huge effects.


  • Develop a process that delivers positive service consistently in each area of your business that has customer interaction:
    • Sales
    • Customer Service/Reception
    • Operations/Shipping
    • Accounting (Accounts Receivables)
  • Follow this simple rule: For each customer complaint, there are at least five who didn't bother complaining and left. Assume nothing and check often that you are fulfilling expectations, real or perceived.
  • Frequently train your staff on continuous improvement to the process: What else can you do to raise the bar on customer service excellence?
  • Run case studies on the Butterfly's Effect with your staff: Make a list of wing flaps that could cause a tornado in your business. Then, make sure those butterflies don't breed on your premises.

For more information about Chaos Theory click here.


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