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Six simple rules to deal with complexity and avoid getting complicated

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Why do we oftentimes see employees feeling miserable or demotivated at work, in spite of all the profound transformations in communication and information technology that have revolutionized the business world? Moreover, despite all the affiliation and leadership development programs that seek out better and more efficient work relationships, we can still see this happening nowadays.

Yves Morieux, senior partner with the BCG’s Washington D.C. office and director of the BCG Institute for Organization, makes a valiant attempt at shedding new light on the subject and helping increasingly complex organizations improve their performance in our complex and fast-changing business environment.

In this energetic talk entitled “As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify”, Morieux comes up with six rules for “smart simplicity”:

  1. Understand what your employees actually do – Most managers pay little attention to the day-to-day reality of how employees operate and why. As a substitute, they add unnecessary procedures and rules. The essence of smart simplicity implies going beyond the surface and understanding the cause of the real problems.
  2. Reinforce integrators – Integrators are key players that have an interest in cooperation but also the power to make collaboration happen. This is possible by removing layers within the organization in order to develop autonomy and accountability.
  3. Give people more power– This way you can empower employees to use their judgment, their intelligence. If more people have the power to make decisions in the organization, they will be determined to solve problems on their own.
  4. Increase the shadow of the future – Create feedback loops and let people deal with the consequences of their actions. This approach is much more powerful than a variable compensation plan.
  5. Increase reciprocity – Strong reciprocity can give rise to maximum cooperation and encourage constructive and efficient work relationships.
  6. Reward employees who cooperate – Support and motivate those who cooperate while punishing the failure to cooperate, either because they won’t come together to help solve problems, or because they won’t ask for help.

“When you do that, you can manage complexity, the new complexity of business, without getting complicated, you create more value with lower cost”, says Yves Morieux.

Watch this inspiring TED Talk, and learn more about what drives productivity and engagement at the workplace.

 Video source: Morieux, Y. (2013), As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify, TED Talks

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