behaviours create complexity

8 behavioural indicators of everyday complexity

Behaviours create complexity. Here’s a simplicity idea for you.

It requires no budget, can be done as part of your day job, doesn’t need a small army of well-heeled management consultants (… phew) and you might even have a little fun.

Below are eight behavioural indicators of everyday complexity that most of us are guilty of demonstrating – this author included.

By attempting to reverse these – you, your team and even your boss will play a small, but significant role in driving simplicity in your organisation.

01. Tinkering: Making minor changes that reflect personal preference, even though the result won’t be substantially better. Trying to make things 100% perfect, when roughly right is good enough.

02. Mistrust: Creating systems, processes and organisations to manage and control people, rather than offering support and empowering people to do their job well.

03. Adding without taking away: Adding more elements to something without taking something less important away first.

04. Aimlessness: Failing to set a clear and/or correct destination from the very start, leading to aimlessly wandering in lots of directions.

05. Avoidance: Focusing on the politics, the process, or something entirely unrelated, rather than confronting the issue directly.

06. Over-engineering: Making something more intellectual or more complex than it needs to be for the situation or audience in question.

07. Reinventing: Creating a new way of doing something that is already done well enough.

08. Distraction: Focusing on too many small things and failing to prioritise the biggest issues or opportunities.


What to do?

For a week, make these behaviours visible to you and your team. Every day that week, spend 5 minutes considering how many of these have you demonstrated. Finally, inject some fun into it – play ‘complexity bingo’ with your team! Whatever works to make a habit of starting to challenge some of the unnecessary complexity you and others create.


Takeaway: These indicators are visible proof of how unnecessary complexity lives and breathes in organisations and how people add to it. Noticing and attempting to reverse these in a light-hearted way will certainly allow you to start placing simplicity at the heart of how you work.