To create value and achieve competitive advantage in a time of growing complexity, organizations often rely on misguided or outdated strategies. Smart Simplicity offers a new way of thinking.
People are a weak link, so organizations need new structures, processes, and incentives to better control employee performance.
Rules, procedures, and structures can get in the way of performance and make organizations worse, not better. Understand the contexts that shape behavior, and learn how employees cooperate, find resources, and solve problems—or fail to do so.
Companies can foster cooperation by having the right managers and rules in place—and then directly measuring the results.
Find out how cooperation happens and who makes it happen. Identify the “integrators”—the people and units who bring others together and drive processes. Effective integrators have both an interest in making others cooperate and the power to compel them to do so. Eliminate layers and rules and give the integrators the power, authority, and incentives to make the entire task succeed.
Organizational power is an attribute of position, authority, and leadership styles.
Power is the ability to make a difference in areas that matter to someone else. It isn’t a direct result of one’s position within a hierarchy or the authority that a company bestows. By increasing the total quantity of power within an organization, managers can meet performance requirements and avoid the problems of complexity.
Greater clarity about roles and objectives is always good, while cooperation dilutes personal responsibility and interdependency destroys accountability.
Reciprocity ensures that people have a mutual interest in cooperating and that their shared success depends on each other. Eliminate internal monopolies, remove resources so people are compelled to cooperate, and create situations that foster mutual performance requirements.
To manage complex requirements, focus primarily on what can be observed in short cycles.
Embrace “the shadow of the future,” a game-theory concept that looks at the future consequences that result from actions taken today. Tighten feedback loops so people feel consequences more frequently, ensure that involvement in work continues to the endpoint of the activity, and create situations in which the success of individuals requires contributing to the success of others.
Cooperation is risky.
The new complexity of the business world makes cooperation the safest solution, because it multiplies intelligence and energy in the workplace.