Elegant Organisations? Daily Simplicity? Fugetaboutit!

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by: Sigurd Rinde

"Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem"

Occam’s razor keeps it simple – "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity". Or in short form; simple is better.

A basic philosophy of science – simple is better. Einstein could be a signatory to that principle.

And for us little people we drift towards simplicity. Yes we want features, but by all means give me one button to control it all. Jonathan Ive of Apple is revered as the current master of simplicity, and we love what he does. Braun had the same success when they had a strong designer running the show. And today, consumer car reviews usually ends up with detailed criticism of the navigation interface instead of chassis refinement. Simple we want, simple is elegant, simple makes our lives simpler.

Dieter Rams simplicity. Source www.wallpaper.com

All good and well until you leave home and enter the workplace. Meet the organisation, another form of entity:

Picking up a random business card from my coat pocket I can read "Tech Solution Manager Part of The Intelligence Platform and Market Insight and Enablement Team". Wonder what the strategy of same firm reads like…

Ah, their strategy… something simple my windy-titled acquaintance could relate to. I looked, I poked, I searched, but alas, could not find it. Some vision snippets here, some there, some clear, some worthy of the (now defunct) Dilbert’s vision generator. But no one-button interface to how he should deliver value.

Or, here’s how another friend described his own (different) organisation: "Global matrix organisation relying on the brownian motion of clever individuals to create the illusion of progress". Can you hear the frustration between the lines? Can you see how value-creation evaporates?

No wonder both corporations are struggling.

Now, guess how above corporations are addressing these hard times: Reorganising. New titles, people reshuffled, people removed, new reporting lines, injection of fear, frustration, adrenalin and for some, hope.

Seeking simplicity is nowhere in sight. Where are the "work design" Occams or Ives when we need them?

I once did an MBA, cannot remember a class called "Work Design", nor much talk about simplicity principles, only a lot of the term "complex" as if the whole concept of the education was to enhance and cultivate the complexity. Long titles, impossible to understand gobbledygook and power delivered by opaqueness ensured well paid jobs for the freshly minted MBAs.

Something is wrong.

There’s a huge glaring hole in the title jungle – "Work Designer". And hopefully the first one’s will do to organisations what Raymond Loewy, Bauhaus, Dieter Rams, and Jonathan Ive did to the tangible stuff.

This is what a "Work Designer" could help those two corporate examples above to: A simple strategy, a simple way to deliver the value, a one-button way for all to interact to save time and energy and increase profits. 

Forget everything else for now. Time to simplify the stupid complexity. Time for "Good Business Design".

From wishy washy mission statements to singularly clear strategies, from cumbersome and resource depleting manual flow handling to automated flows. Simplicity and focus, one-button interfaces to value-creation, that’ll be the future. 

And that’s where a new kind of Enterprise Software comes in, automate the flow, convert a singular strategy to efficient value creation, that’s the only thing that matters.

I’m sure both my friends above will embrace the coming as there’s one thing that beats visual simplicity, and that’s practical simplicity, aka efficiency.

Original Post: http://blog.thingamy.com/sigs_blog/2010/03/elegant-organisations-daily-simplicity-fugetaboutit.html