Mastering Complexity Through Simplification: Four Steps to Creating Competitive Advantage

Mastering Complexity Through Simplification: Four Steps to Creating Competitive Advantage

          
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Mastering Complexity Through Simplification: Four Steps to Creating Competitive Advantage

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  • The Challenge of Complicatedness

    Challenges related to complicatedness are deeply entrenched in many large organizations across all regions and industries. But if so many people at all levels are aware of these issues, why are companies unable to fix them?

    On the basis of our observation of organizations in numerous industries around the world, we believe that failure is typically the result of one, or several, of a number of (perceived or real) causes:

    • The problems and the underlying root causes are difficult to identify and, for the most part, unique to each company. There is almost never a single silver-bullet solution, and implementing standard best practices does not solve the problems.
    • The problems appear too big or too “slippery” to tackle. Common refrains: “We would need an entirely different culture to do that” and “Once the external environment changes, things will work out again.”
    • The problems are hard to measure, and, therefore, it’s difficult to make the business case to tackle them. The cost of time wasted in unproductive meetings, for example, is much harder to quantify than the cost of physical waste piling up next to a machine.
    • Responsibilities for a given problem are divided among various parties and silos, and no one feels compelled to take ownership of the problem. This is particularly emphasized if the problem has in the past proved hard to resolve.

    When internal complicatedness is not addressed, tangible value is destroyed. This can be reflected in increasing costs, slow and poor decision making, low employee engagement, dissatisfied customers, and declining business results.