WORKPLACE / AUG. 19, 2014
version 1, draft 1

6 Ways to Simplify Complex Businesses

Yves Morieux, a senior partner in BCG in Washington D.C, examines what makes organizations work effectively. As director of BCG Institute for Organization, he considers how changes in the overarching structure can improve the motivation of employees with a company. Using six key concepts, employees are encouraged to cooperate in order to problem solve and resolve long-term issues.

In the TED talk above, Morieux states that in working with over 500 companies, why is productivity so disappointing and engagement so rare? Despite all the available technology, engagement at work is to a point where employees feel miserable and are actively disengaging from their co-workers and the needs of their company.

Morieux used to believe that the issue was a “chicken and egg” issue: people are less productive because they are not engaged, and vice versa. However, Morieux is discovering that the issue lies in the original six pillars of management and the complexity of business.

The two basic pillars that each manager is taught includes hard (structure, processes, systems) and soft (feelings, relationships, traits) pillars. No matter how the business world refines and tones these two pillars, the problem lies within the pillars themselves; they are obsolete.

Business models have become increasingly complex with the growth of technology and the combination of management pillars. Complexity isn’t solving any problems for us in the workplace, so how can we simplify?

According to Morieux, there are six ways to navigate and simplify workplace productivity and engagement, called the “Smart Simplicity Approach”.

  • Understand what your employees do and their job functions. Go deeper than just the container of your business to engage your workers.
  • Reinforce integration by reinforcing managers and supervisors so that they have power and interest to make workers cooperate. Removing layers is one way to do this.
  • Increase total quantity of power so that every worker is encouraged to use their best judgment—this encourages engagement and problem-solving.
  • Extend the shadow of the future by creating feedback loops that expose workers to the consequences of their actions.
  • Increase reciprocity be removing buffers that make us self-sufficient. Requiring workers to depend on one another greatly increases their cooperation and willingness to work together to get things done. “You hold me by the nose, I hold you by the ear.”
  • Reward cooperation and place blame on those who do not. “Blame is not for failure, it is failing to help or ask for help.”

With these tools, Morieux states that you can manage complexity without getting complicated, and you create more value with lower cost. You encourage satisfaction at work and increased performance by removing complicatedness.

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