Complicatedness Survey

What’s bogging down your business? BCG’s Complicatedness Survey is designed to help you pinpoint symptoms of complicatedness and pain points that are causing performance issues in your organization.

A BCG study of the internal operations of more than 1000 US and European companies found that the amount of procedures, vertical layers, interface structures, coordination bodies, and decision approvals within organizations had increased by anywhere from 50% to 350% over a 15-year period, in response to growing external complexity. 

BCG’s Complicatedness Survey is designed to assess the factors contributing to an organization’s complicatedness across eight key dimensions and to identify the true pain points affecting business performance.

To give you an idea of how BCG pinpoints these issues, we list just of few of the survey questions that we pose within eight relevant dimensions.

The eight context dimensions are bound together by Leadership.

  • Strategy & Transformation Agenda. Is the organization’s overall group strategy clear to everyone? Is the strategy made operational and translated into clear initiatives? Is it effectively pursued at all levels? 
  • Structure. Are there too many layers of hierarchy in the organization? How many direct reports do managers have? Is the manager's span of control appropriate? 
  • Activities and Roles. Are the roles and responsibilities of all managers and employees clear? To what extent is there duplication of activities? To what extent do people perform lower-value activities?
  • Processes and Systems/IT. Are processes clearly defined from end to end and continuously improved? Are process rules and policies overly restrictive? Is the complexity of the application landscape effectively managed?
  • Decision Making. Do people have enough decision power to fulfill their responsibilities? Does it take too long for decisions to be made? Are there too many people involved in the decision processes?
  • Performance Management. Are the key performance indicators (KPIs) clear to all people in the organization? Do the performance reports and KPIs effectively support business steering? Does the steering system encourage people to cooperate? 
  • People and Interactions. Are people adequately qualified and trained for their tasks? To what extent are people in the organization engaged? To what extent are people spending too much time in meetings?

The Complicatedness Survey isn’t limited to use within a comprehensive project. It can also start a conversation about overall simplification, make existing discussions more tangible, or quantify a leader's perception of what’s going on. 
This is because the Complicatedness Survey can be conducted at varying degrees of intensity. For example, BCG offers a quick and easy online survey of employees using standardized questions and text-entry fields to get an overall sense of complicatedness. We can conduct deep dives into each dimension, then provide a fast and concise analysis of complicatedness, making comparisons across different parts of the organization and determining which areas to tackle first. 

Finally, our detailed and precise insights provide businesses with different output formats that provide an overall summary, key survey results per dimension, and major pain points within individual dimensions and subdimensions. We also provide a complicatedness index that scores your organization’s overall level of complexity, employees' perceptions of complicatedness, and notable differences among the eight context dimensions.

All this data can then be used to help determine the symptoms of complicatedness, articulate performance issues, and establish a case for change.

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