Complexity may be inevitable but it must be managed
Thursday, 28 October, 2010 Leave a comment
So says Alan Bird is UK Head of the Organisation Practice at Bain & Company, the consultancy. I doubt very much that we would agree on every aspect of their definition or approach and, to the best of my knowledge, Bain & Co (like every other consultancy) only have a qualitative means of tackling complexity…rather them than me!!!
Downturns reveal a company’s weaknesses. An organisation that seemed nimble and focused during a period of expansion may be sluggish and ineffectual when demand drops. One cause for this is complexity, often a consequence of success. As companies grow, typically they add complexity. Its costs usually are hidden, so executives often don’t grasp the magnitude of the problem – until a downturn hits.
Some level of complexity is necessary to sustain a competitive edge across a global organisation. For example, country or regional business units know better what local customers want, creating a need to define which decisions get taken locally or at headquarters. That kind of complexity in a global organisation can be vital to sustain sales through a recession….