Mardi Gras Capitaine - Leader of Chaos
In New Orleans last week, just a few weeks before Mardi Gras, I was privileged to speak to a group of more than 100 business owners about "Getting the Process Right" for a business. Later, my wife Susan and I drove to see family in Baton Rouge where I grew up, and on to St. Francisville, La., to enjoy some good food and a few plantations along the Mississippi River.
While there, I found a copy of Country Roads magazine with an article titled, "Mardi Gras Capitaine, the Leader of Chaos." It was a story about a Cajun French tradition, whereby Mardi Gras revelers dress up in outlandish, colorful costumes and plan a route to visit fun-loving neighbors. Revelers greet one another with, “Laissez les bon temps rouler” — that’s French for “Let the good times roll!”
Alcohol Consumption Brings on Chaos
That tradition is also a rite-of-passage for young boys and girls into adulthood; having fun, yet being watched over. While partying and consuming sometimes large amounts of alcohol to loosen inhibitions, reveling can get out of hand and pretty chaotic. One of the events of this South Louisiana tradition is where property owners on the route of the Mardi Gras offer the revelers a gift of a live chicken. The trick is, they first must catch the chicken, which is where the fun and chaos breaks out. Revelers get a little crazy, not to mention very dirty, in their pursuit of a feathered meal.
Capitaine Acts to Bring Back Order
When the pushing and shoving gets out of hand, the “Capitaine” takes action to gain control. All Mardi Gras participants have agreed in advance, before the party begins, to absolutely obey ALL commands of the Capitaine, the leader of this small-town Mardi Gras chaos. He is usually the one NOT wearing a mask and not intoxicated.
Captain of Business Chaos
Having just spoken at the New Orleans conference on how to remove chaos in a business, by mapping processes that bring order to a business, this story of Mardi Gras really grabbed me. As a business owner, it struck me that all owners must realize WE ARE “Capitaine!” For the unacquainted, that means captain or leader. WE are responsible for bringing the chicken-chasing-madness in our business back to order before the unthinkable happens, like losing one of our most valuable customers.
Ironic Truth About This Mardi Gras Tradition
Many business owners too often relate to the title “Captain of Chaos.” Some have other names for this chicken-chasing Mardi Gras. Maybe you think of yourself as the “head firefighter,” the one who daily chases and puts out the fires of chaos. Of course, in business chaos is NOT a game played in a colorful costume. When disorder breaks out in business, and it’s not contained, it demonstrates poor leadership to employees and customers. Those types of business owners are un-masked and unable to hide from the cost that chaos brings.
Our business mission is to teach and coach leaders of industry to STOP the chaos and help them become like the lead conductor over a “symphony of order.” With systemization, a business owner becomes the Capitaine of “The System” and not the “Leader of the Chaos.”
What is a System?
A system is a group of integrated written processes on how a business should operate, from opening to closing. Getting these processes right, one system at a time, will rid owners and employees of the frustrations caused by disorder.
Stop chasing chickens! Chaos in business is not Mardi Gras reveling — I know from past experience, it’s dirty, costly and not fun!
Did I mention? Great Systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.