How to Decrease Organizational Complexity

A man tries to navigate a maze to decrease organizational complexity

Decrease Organizational Complexity
Overly complex processes, procedures, and systems hamper organizational effectiveness and decrease employee engagement.  To improve business performance and retain top talent, it is critical to make it easier to get the right work done in the right way.

Unfortunately, a large number of companies waste time on simplifying complexities that are not the real culprits of making it difficult to get work dome in a way that makes sense.  We believe that the first step to decrease organizational complexity is to understand where changing how work gets done will have the greatest impact on your strategic imperatives.

Understand Different Perspectives
What seem like barriers to effective business practices to leaders are not likely to be the same for individual contributors.  Leaders are apt to consider complexity from a broader point of view – the number of employees, the number of divisions, the number of facilities, the number of countries they operate in, etc.  Employees, on the other hand, often think of complexity as specific hurdles to overcome as they do their job – confusion over role, ambiguity over scope, unnecessarily cumbersome processes, too many levels of bureaucracy, etc.

What You Need to Do and How
If your goal is to reduce complexity and to make it easier to get stuff done, you first need to identify where the complexity exists. Senior leaders need to take a fresh look at the company’s org chart and re-think where assignments and priorities could be improved.  And they need to canvas employees, whether by survey, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews.  Collect the data to find out where time and resources are being wasted and where organizational conflicts exist.

  • Executives will need to tackle the more systemic problems. Is there unnecessary duplication in employees and facilities?  Can you streamline production so there’s less overlap?  Can you justify operating in as many countries as you currently do?  Are you trying to do too many things at once?
  • Then you need to look at the complexities that keep employees from performing at their peak. Is there a lack of role clarity that causes confusion or duplication of effort?  Are there systems and processes that unnecessarily hinder efficient and satisfactory job execution?  Are efforts being wasted in areas that are not a top priority?

The Goal
The goal is organizational effectiveness.  The solution?  Remove confusion over accountability, useless bureaucracy, and unnecessary costs.  To get a handle on complexity, executives need to learn what’s driving it and eliminate complexity where it does not add value.

The Bottom Line
The best leaders know how to create a strategy that outlines clear and compelling choices about where to play and what actions to take – both on the executive and employee levels.  Done right, a successful strategic plan sets a company up to perform beyond just the sum of its parts as a smoothly running machine with minimal waste and friction.

Is your strategy or ways of doing business too complex?  Download 7 Ways to Stress Test Your Strategy Now

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