A Simplification Bandwagon Begins To Roll

iStock_000000213421MediumIs business simplification at last moving up the strategic agenda?

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.

Related Posts

25 Mar 2013   When Process Precision Saves Children’s Lives

19 Mar 2013   The Risks In Social Without Governance

© Text Michael Gammage 2013

2 thoughts on “A Simplification Bandwagon Begins To Roll

  1. Hi Mike,

    I’ve recently been getting involved in the Agile community. Agile is something I initially thought was something of a cult used by a handful of fanatical software developers. It turns out that Agile is fast becoming a widely accepted ‘mindset’ to managing teams and projects across most industries. The Agile approach is really about collaboration, simplicity and delivering work incrementally, especially when it’s difficult to know exactly what you need to deliver. It’s ideal today because when you plan to deliver something in 12 – 18 months a lot can change in that time and Agile is ideally suited to that.

    Yesterday I spent time with a group of Agile practitioners in the finance industry so even in a highly regulated industry it is being embraced. While this may not be exactly what you are talking about here it does represent an acceptance that traditional approaches are overly complex and too often result in failure.

    Craig

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