Simplicity is possible.
Those Organisations who decide to consciously remove unnecessary complexity rather than suffer it perform better. Much, much better.
- Higher ROI. Organisations with individuals reporting the lowest levels of everyday complexity have the highest returns on capital (McKinsey & Co)
- Faster growth. The simplest third of Organisations grow 30% – 50% quicker than their average competitors (Bain & Co)
- Higher profit. 4 out of 5 Organisations which reduce complexity also reduce cost (McKinsey & Co)
Simplicity is about minimalism
Quite simply, to reduce complexity is to reduce activity.
Complexity which causes low value activity needs to be minimalised. Minimalised means taking away time, money, and talent.
An obvious word of caution: not all complexity is bad. In fact, some complexity creates competitive advantage and should be harnessed.
For example, when British Airways recently introduced a new route to New Orleans, it did so because it will serve its customers and make money. BA’s route planning team would have undertaken high value activity to reach this decision. Similarly, Apple introducing the Apple Watch and Facebook acquiring Instagram created value creating complexity.
Before seeking to kill complexity, organisations must first understand it. At any time, complexity, and therefore activity, can be classified as:
Quite simply, Organisations must continually seek to do:
- More of the high value, meaningful work
- Less of the low value, meaningless work
If in doubt, simplify everything.