Fight Complexity with Simplicity and Agility
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"Simplify and Repeat" suggests the Economist's Schumpeter columnist, using Legos and the company that makes them as examples to emulate. I think they're on to something.
As the world becomes more complex we often try to fight increasing complexity with increasing complexity. That's a natural response.
In most of our lives effort and outcome parallel each other. Step really hard on the gas and the car goes faster. Take your foot off and the car slows down. Put more effort in and get more results. The problem is that complex adaptive systems are all around us, and they don't work that way.
Teams are complex adaptive systems. So are economies. It's hard to predict how they'll respond to a stimulus. There are too many independent actors making too many independent choices where the impacts affect each other.
If complexity is the challenge of our age, then the answer is not more complexity. It's a dynamic combination of simplicity and agility.
Keep your rules and actions simple. Define a few simple, important rules and follow them. That's the principle behind my "Elevator Speech for Bosses."
Agility rules. Keep your head up in scanning mode and react to what you observe. Agility may not be as sexy as prediction, but at least it deals with reality.
Boss's Bottom Line
The world will not get less complex, but you can improve your results if you resort to simplicity and agility.
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