Yves Morieux: As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify

Speaker

Yves Morieux is a consultant at BCG, and researches how corporations can adapt to a modern and complex business landscape.

Summary

Yves starts with a paradox: why are companies struggling so much with low productivity despite the vast improvements in technology, and increased leadership development programs? Management is based on 2 pillars:

  • hard pillars: based on structure, processes, metrics
  • soft pillars: feelings, interpersonal relationships, traits, personality

Yves believes these pillars are now obsolete. Businesses are now extremely complex, and to manage an improvement (to reliability, technology, cost) they typically add more hard rules to make things more complicated. For example: if an automotive engineering firm has a separate team for each aspect of a car (20 teams), and there is a new focus on ease of maintenance, the hard solution is to make a new functional team with responsibility for maintenance. Each of these will have a KPI to improve their function, which dilutes focus and makes cooperation between the teams more difficult. This extra burden of competition and cooperation is borne by the individual employees, who have to work harder to make up for the flaws of the structure.

Yves proposes 6 simplification rules for business

  1. Understand what others do – beyond a superficial title, understand what their role involves.
  2. Reinforce integrators – give managers the power to make cooperation happen without forcing KPIs and complicated structures on people.
  3. Increase total quantity of power – empower everyone to use their judgement and intelligence to take good risks
  4. Extend the shadow of the future – make sure feedback loops expose employees to the consequences of their actions
  5. Increase reciprocity – remove buffers that force people to be self-sufficient
  6. Reward those who cooperate –  “blame is not for failure, it is for failing to cooperate or ask for help”

When you do this, it stops being about boxes and organisational structures. You have simplified complicated businesses.

The real battle is not against your competitors, it is against yourself, and against bureaucracy.

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