Six Simple Rules: How to Manage Complexity without Getting Complicated. Yves Morieux, Peter Tollman. Harvard Business Review Press.

Six Simple Rules: How to Manage Complexity without Getting Complicated Book Cover Six Simple Rules: How to Manage Complexity without Getting Complicated
Yves Morieux, Peter Tollman
Harvard Business Review Press
April 1, 2014

Does your organization manage complexity by making things more complicated? If so, you’re not alone.

According to Boston Consulting Group’s fascinating Complexity Index, business complexity has increased sixfold during the past sixty years. And, all the while, organizational complicatedness – that is, the number of structures, processes, committees, decision-making forums, and systems – has increased by a whopping factor of thirty-five. In their attempt to respond to the increasingly complex performance requirements they face, company leaders have created an organizational labyrinth that makes it more and more difficult to improve productivity and to pursue innovation. It also disengages and demotivates the workforce.

Clearly it’s time for leaders to stop trying to manage complexity with traditional tools and instead better leverage their employees’ intelligence. This book shows you how and explains implications for designing and leading organizations.

The way to manage complexity, the authors argue, is neither with the hard solutions of another era nor with the soft solutions – such as team building and feel-good “people initiatives” – that often follow in their wake. Based on social sciences (notably economics, game theory, and organizational sociology) and the Boston Consulting Group’s work with more than five hundred companies in more than forty countries and in various industries, authors Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman recommend six simple rules to manage complexity without getting complicated.

Showing why the rules work and how to put them into practice, Morieux and Tollman give managers a much-needed tool to reinvigorate people in the face of seemingly endless complexity. Included are detailed examples from companies that have achieved a multiplicative effect on performance by using them.

It’s time to manage complexity better. Employ these six simple rules to foster autonomy and cooperation and to effectively handle business complexity. As a result, you will improve productivity, and innovate more, reengage your workforce, and seize opportunities to create competitive advantage.

Yves Morieu is a senior partner and managing director in the Washington, DC, office of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). He is a BCG Fellow and Director of the BCG Institute for Organization.

Peter Tollman is a senior partner and managing director in BCG’s Boston office. He leads BCG’s People and Organization practice in North America.