In recent discussions with three global organizations, it’s the senior people who are arguing forcefully for simplicity. Admittedly, all three are in Life Sciences but my hunch is that it’s a wider quest.
As one CxO put it:
“The world in which [this organization] operates is already complex. It is set to get far more complicated in the next three to five years as we work more collaboratively with clients, partners and service providers. There are going to be far more opportunities to do the wrong thing at the wrong time with the wrong person. Our risks are increasing rapidly. “
She went on to identify one of the root causes:
“At the moment, we deal with complexity by hiding it. We bury it deep down in inpenetrable SOPs. We need to expose that complexity. It’s the first step in simplifying our business – and engaging our people.”
Seems to me that she’s right on both counts. Complexity has to be exposed before it can be reduced (and the direction of travel there is, of course, from a document-defined world to a process-based mindset that leverages the power of visualization).
It’s not just that people can’t contribute to a better way of doing things (or even do their current jobs well) if they don’t understand the big picture – though that is clearly true.
The strategic headlines here are about risk. People working in complex, fast-moving and perilous conditions – firefighters and surgeons, for instance – are drilled in situational awareness. They are taught never to lose sight of the big picture.
Arguably, global businesses are becoming far more complex, fast-moving and perilous than surgery or firefighting. They require the orchestration of large numbers of people, spread across all regions of the world, and collaborating across organizational boundaries and functional silos. Situational awareness matters more than ever, which is why business simplification looks set to become the zeitgeist.
25 Mar 2013 When Process Precision Saves Children’s Lives
19 Mar 2013 The Risks In Social Without Governance