Solving Complex Problems Without Adding Complexity


Ever wonder why a common complaint in the workforce of many large companies is that the business processes are too complex?  While every company tries to remove inefficiencies, its a recurring narrative that the bigger a company is and the longer it has been around, the more likely it is to be mired down in processes that sap productivity and don’t add value.

Yves Morieux is a Senior Partner and Managing Director of the Boston Consulting Group,  head of BCG’s Institute for Organization.  In a recent TED talk, he really got me jazzed looking at how the top two organizational structures that corporate leaders use for resolving business challenges contribute directly to this productivity atrophy.  It is his opinion that these methods are obsolete and no longer work into today’s corporations.  He makes some compelling arguments.  What do you think?


This subject hits home with me; I spent my last three months building a new process model, and am now taking on new responsibilities in a new role at Johnson & Johnson. More than ever, I will be focusing on the interplay, on what people’s jobs really are and the value that they provide.

Whenever you are faced with a new challenge and find yourself in a position to “draw a new box”, seriously consider what implications that box has on the overall complexity of your organization.  Is adding this process (and complexity by proxy) going to decrease the productivity on my existing workforce? Where does this new process prioritize against their existing struggles to “do more with less in less time with less resources”?

I think his cooperation-2 TV’s analogy is interesting.  I definitely see how when you like people you don’t do things that would stress the friendship, like give constructive criticism when its needed.  But at the same time I have always loved an Orson Scott Card quote: “When you truly understand everything about a person: wants, needs, dreams and faults, you love them”. I think understanding what people do – their struggles, what they work on, what they want is important to fostering cooperation.  But his analogy is a reminder that cooperation doesn’t mean constant agreement, but rather a compromise of challenging tradeoffs to create a better end product.

Yves briefly speaks on how managing the failure to be transparent can be a key driver of fostering cooperation, but one topic I feel goes unanswered is, how do you recognize and reward successful cooperation in a meaningful, self-sustaining way?  All I know is Yves probably would not approve me building a process box around it!



Yves is now based in Washington D.C. He intervenes on a worldwide basis as an expert in corporate transformation and leads the firm’s global development of approaches to help corporations create the structural and behavioral conditions for competitive advantage.

Posted in IT, Life Lessons, Shifting Perspectives, Work. Tagged with , , , .

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