Leading Renewal
The Value
of Positive Turbulence
Leaders who develop the ability to read turbulence and who respond
to it by bringing a controlled amount of it into the organization create
a condition of organizational renewal called
positive turbulence
primary means of ensuring that organizations not only survive change
but also prosper from it.
by Stanley S. Gryskiewicz
robably the most important
challenge a leader faces today is
building an organization that continu-
ally renews itself—an organization in
which creativity (the generation of
new and useful ideas) and innovation
(the successful implementation of
these ideas) are ongoing. This chal-
lenge is heightened by the constant—
many would say accelerating—
change that has been buffeting us all.
I have spent many years working
with and studying organizations seek-
ing renewal in the midst of such tur-
bulence, and I have found that there
are leaders who are able to connect
the two. They have developed the
ability to read turbulence and have
responded to it, not by attempting to
wall it out but by bringing a con-
trolled amount of it into the organiza-
tion. In doing this they have created a
condition of renewal that I refer to as
positive turbulence. In my view, cre-
ating positive turbulence can be the
primary means of promoting renewal
so that organizations not only survive
change but also prosper from it.
Reading turbulence is a continual
activity: the leader must understand
the multitude of forces that the organ-
ization is subject to, then decide
which forces to bring in and how to
do it, then gauge the turbulence that is
brought in so it may be kept positive.
Turbulence can be difficult to read
because it can occur in so many inter-
related forms: information, the com-
petitive environment, organizational
structure—to name only a few. In the
discussion that follows I refer prima-
rily to informational turbulence,
which may be the most important
Editor’s note: This article first
appeared in 1998 (vol. 18, no. 5).

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