This week’s riff: Technology, globalisation and socio-political shifts are combining to create a more uncertain, complex world for businesses. Many companies respond by creating more integrated, joined up organisations, with matrix structures, a myriad of committees and shared responsibilities. They match external complexity with internal complexity.
These approaches may look good on paper but, more often than not, the result is a lack of pace, an inability to make decisions, and issues and opportunities falling through the accountability gaps. As Steve Elop complained in a memo to Nokia’s employees a few months after his appointment as CEO in 2010: “We have lacked accountability and leadership through these disruptive times. Chinese OEMs are cranking out a device much faster than, as one Nokia employee said only partially in jest, the time it takes us to polish a PowerPoint presentation!”
The most effective, agile and successful big businesses that I come across eschew this need for complexity. They have crystal clear, single-point accountabilities, lean and straightforward management structures and the collective discipline to deliver on their promises to each other; characteristics that you tend to find in much smaller companies. They understand the power of simplicity in a complex world.
How would you rate the simplicity of your organisation, and what steps could you take to make it simpler, faster and more effective?
Off The Record: The Mayor Of Simpleton by XTC
Well, I don’t know how to tell the weight of the sun
And of mathematics, well I want none
And I may be the Mayor of Simpleton
But I know one thing – and that’s I love you
When their logic grows cold and all thinking gets done
You’ll be warm in the arms of the Mayor of Simpleton
© Stuart Cross 2014. All rights reserved.