Monday, January 7, 2013

Simplify ... or perish. Finding Organizational Simplicity.

The axiom of "Publish or Perish" has held sway in Academe for decades.  There are certain things one must do to maintain one's status in the world.  In the Academy, professors must publish.. or perish.

I believe this type of simple clarity has been lost in organizations, much to their detriment.  My corollary is "Simplify or Perish". 

I doubt that complexity ever arises as an intentional strategy, but it certainly is a byproduct of organizational activity. 

  1. Department A develops a new product that requires Department C to reschedule, rearrange and reorganize.
  2. Department B also develops a product that requires Department D to reschedule, rearrange, reassess, reevaluate, and respond.
  3. Before long, Department E arises to resolve the conflicts in Departments A through D.
Soon, processes are documented, managers are trained, and line workers adjust to the new resolutions.

Then something happens to add complexity: Department A notices a slippage in revenue in their product.  They write more processes, develop more marketing materials, add staff to prop up the lack of sales ... they've added unnecessary complexity. 

ANALOGY: Each of us has storage space in our homes or apartments.  When we no longer desire something, we place it in storage space thinking "I'm sure I'll need that one day."  But we rarely do ... yet we add complexity to the storage space, preventing us from accessing critical items when we need them.  We add unnecessary emotional stress, absorb precious resources, and make our lives more complicated ... all because we believe ...somehow, somewhere, some day ... we'll need those items.

If we do not seek organizational simplicity, we expend grievous amounts of energy maintaining policies and procedures that mattered at one time, but matter no more!

What are the barriers to simplicity?  What's holding you back from making things easier, simpler, and thus faster, more efficient and less emotionally draining on your employees?

No comments:

Post a Comment