Organizations must tackle external complexities such as additional regulations, new technologies, and more complex customer expectations. Historically, their response has been to increase their internal complicatedness, which BCG defines as the number of procedures, vertical layers, interface structures, coordination bodies, decision approvals, and other add-ons.
Increasing this complicatedness results in many performance issues, such as high costs, slow decision-making, siloed thinking, a lack of innovation, slow movement, and difficulty getting things done—all common concerns of CEOs today.
While complexity is a fact of business life, complicatedness doesn’t have to be.
Smart Simplicity, BCG’s innovative approach to solving this issue, can simplify organizations by helping them identify and resolve unnecessary complicatedness and deliver lasting, measurable change. How does Smart Simplicity differ from traditional solutions? We take into consideration the drivers of behavior—the context that employees work within—and then shape this context to achieve the desired behaviors.
To do this, Smart Simplicity applies a holistic framework in four steps:
We start by identifying our key performance gaps and the value of fixing them. Our complicatedness assessment, which includes high-level performance checks and an in-depth Complicatedness Survey, looks across seven context dimensions to determine the specific performance issues and problems caused by complicatedness.
Using proven diagnostic tools and deep-dive employee interviews, we determine the root causes of complicatedness, establish the link between context and behavior, and determine how changes to the context will make new behaviors rational and thereby improve performance.
In determining the right interventions to create the desired context, we rely on five overarching principles:
BCG has applied Smart Simplicity in various types of businesses—including banks, utilities, insurance agencies, retail chains, and manufacturers—and delivered a wide range of sustainable performance improvements. These include shortened decision processes, faster product development, lower costs, greater clarity of roles, increased employee engagement, and a stronger focus on the core business of the organization.
To ensure that change is happening, we provide an implementation roadmap and anchor Smart Simplicity thinking within the organization through our Smart Simplicity Academy.