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How Workplace Simplicity Impacts Company Results

October 5, 2023
Bill Kimball

While none of the elements of simplification are particularly surprising by themselves, countering complexity requires integrating them into a multidimensional strategy. Though the elements each directly address one source of complexity, applying them separately may actually worsen the problem. One-off efforts may interrupt established relationships, introduce unanticipated roadblocks, and create confusion over decision rights. Companies refresh their offerings continually, with changes as modest as tweaks to package design or the addition of new product features, or as involved as the launch of entirely new lines of products or services. Each innovation has a ripple effect throughout the enterprise, requiring changes in manufacturing and the supply chain, pricing, marketing materials, sales and service training, and so forth. What’s more, most large organizations are better at adding new products and services than they are at pruning, so the SKUs mount. The resulting complexity is difficult to manage—and can be troublesome for customers, too.

Things had evolved to the point that no two units reported on the same basis. O’Sullivan launched an effort to standardize the monthly and quarterly reporting requirements, so that all units focused on the measures that were most critical both for corporate executives and for their unique business. That move eliminated thousands of hours of work for numerous managers. In March 2007, O’Sullivan became the company’s chief growth officer. In addition, many of the process rewiring efforts had produced substantial savings. In the Canadian division, an effort focused on simplifying ways of managing discontinued products, ordering raw and packaging materials, and tracking inventory reduced inventory write-offs by $1.5 million.

simplicity in business

Companies with too many rules tended to “hit a mark” — i.e. release a product — but it tended to be the wrong thing relative to what everyone wanted. Logically, you’d assume the process made it so they weren’t even solving the right problem.

Simplicity In Business: Some Research!

At ConAgra, a spate of acquisitions had generated success while worsening complexity. Each business unit contained its own support functions, and the company had no common method for tracking, reporting, or analyzing units’ results. The CEO consolidated support functions into units that served the whole enterprise. Do your best to make customer-facing processes that require a lot of time or complexity as simple and easy to complete as possible. The quiz below can help you gauge your own organization’s complexity. If your score looks alarmingly high, start developing your own strategy of simplicity.

simplicity in business

Instead of striving for consolidation, many businesses today find it easier to add layers of complexity throughout their organizations. They do this by hiring more employees, having multi-step processes and continually introducing new ones, implementing multiple software solutions, etc. Managers naturally want to feel in control and want to know what is going on in their organizations, but many insist upon an excessive level of detail, generating needless hours of work for their subordinates. At one consumer products company, the CEO held monthly operating reviews with senior leaders.

Our Vision Is Simple

If a new solution is wildly complex, employees won’t respond well to it. Fast Company contributor Faisal Hoque explains three components involved in making decisions surrounding simplicity; Namely, they are discipline, patience and strength. Discipline means saying “no” to things that don’t fit into the master plan. Strength enables organizations to stay focused on a singular purpose. After deciding upon fundamental goals, organizations should determine the top challenges that are holding them back, according to Forbes contributor Josh Bersin. Organizational leaders need to take the time to analyze and document pain points and their implications.

We understand the challenges our advisors and agents face, which is why we have dedicated our business to providing them with the financial products, operational support, and sales and marketing resources, to consistently grow their businesses. Example of SOP, why people do not create simple solutions are on the spot. This happens while creating internal approval notes or replying to letters as well. We write so much and so complicated that only lawyer could decipher it. I have seen in one organization where the introduction itself was say 2 pages and then you start explaining the reason for that note…

simplicity in business

There’s nothing customers dislike more than having to wait in a long checkout line. A mobile reader is a great way to process payments on the go or to bust long lines in your store. Belief that simple is inferior – part of the definition of simple according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “lacking in knowledge or expertise”.

Try offering your eight most popular coffee drinks instead of twenty different options to determine if less is more for your customers. Employers around the world are well aware of the ongoing labor and supply chain shortages impacting just about every industry for months on end, but few industries have been impacted as much as..

How Simplicity Makes Your Business More Efficient And Successful

At a major pharmaceutical company, the CEO realized that too many layers separated him from the frontline employees. When he challenged the leadership team to flatten the organization, many of the divisions were surprised to discover that there were more layers than they had realized—as many as 14 in one case. Imagine a $14 billion company with more than 100 consumer and commercial brands, a food services business, and a commodity trading operation, but no common method for tracking, reporting, or analyzing results. How would you assess relative brand or business unit performance?

It alludes to the fact that simplicity isn’t easy, and it isn’t cheap … but it’s priceless. Only one of out of five employees find their workplace truly simple.

  • How would you know where to place your bets—or what to report to investors and analysts?
  • To develop simplicity, take a hard look at what areas of the business need the most improvement.
  • The 2014 study found that many people – 38% of them – will pay more for a less complicated experience.
  • While we improve and expand the system every day , we still focus on the basics.
  • This belief unhelpfully reinforces the idea that complexity is good and simplicity is bad.

People are not afraid of hard work, they are afraid of failure, and complexity just adds to that fear and erodes confidence. Here are my 26 favourite simplicity quotes to help inspire you to search for simple solutions.

The Value Of Simplicity And How To Make Your Business Simpler

In a little over a year, Nortel trained 2,700 people to lead these workshops, and 25,000 employees participated in at least one. Employees generated 3,000 simplification and improvement ideas, implemented 900, and saved $14 million.

In both design and messaging , simplicity tells a powerful story. It says you know who you are and what you do, and you know who your customers are, and you know what is important to them. Stay connected to our expert insights, thought leadership, and event information.

The Overlooked Power Of Simplicity In Business

By this point more than 1,000 ConAgra employees had participated in simplification initiatives—either in RoadMap sessions or on implementation teams—so that a cultural embrace of simplicity was starting to happen. Rodkin and his senior team reinforced that shift by continually beating the drum about simplicity in speeches, town hall meetings, employee lunches, and videos. Another way of addressing proliferation is to set up processes for evaluating how well the company’s offerings match customers’ needs. The review should focus both on the overall portfolio and on the simplicity of individual products, and usually demands a large dose of customer feedback.

Leadership Perspectives: An Interview With Oliver Bruns, Ceo Of Neveon

Strategy is what you say no to, and saying no is the hardest thing possible for many of us . Knowing who you are is half the job; knowing who you are not is just as important.

Organization & Culture

We have learned to navigate the constant overload of content by pre-sorting at lightning speed. But, if we examine preferred communication styles, humans gravitate towards brevity. In fact, when it comes to the competition for our precious attention – simplicity wins! As adults, we have to unlearn the 3000-word essay method of our college days and aim to keep email in the 75-word range. The Square Editorial Team is dedicated to telling stories of business, for business owners.