At Cincom, we have built a stellar reputation in “simplifying the complex” based on our core principle of “Simplification through Innovation®.” In my last blog post, “Dynamic Complexity Management – Your Key to Sustained Value Creation,” I discussed how various companies are leveraging “complexity management” as a key competency to create strong shareholder returns. In the last post, I reviewed the performance scorecard for Priceline (PCLN), Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Intuitive Surgical (ISRG), Boeing (BA), Nintendo (NTDOY), Research in Motion (RIM), and American Intl Group (AIG).
I am quite fascinated with the complexity/simplicity relationship and decided to further explore the subject. I have summarized my key insights in the context of the following 6 quotes. I will cover remaining 6 quotes in my next week’s blog (Part 2).
1. “You tell me it is too early to be looking back, but that is because you have forgotten the perfect simplicity of being one and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.”
– William Collins
Complexity is really the fusion of three things: 1) The number and variety of components, systems and people within a company and across its value chain, 2) The interrelationships among all of them and 3) The pace at which 1 and 2 are changing. Complexity is indeed beautiful as without complexity, the world would be a linear and boring place and we would all be making minimum wages.
2. “Everything is simpler than you think, and at the same time, more complex than you imagine.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some of us may find beauty in “simple” while others may find beauty in “complex.” It is all about our individual perception, attitude, focus and culmination of our lifelong experiences. For example, creative-type individuals may perceive analytical work to be highly complex and vice versa. The key is the relentless pursuit of our passion to perfect and simplify the complex knowledge over time.
3. “Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge.”
– Winston Churchill
Without the complex and intimate understanding of the problem, situation or issue, we cannot even begin to address it, let alone simplify it. In other words, we have to first conquer complexity before we can conquer simplicity. It is only after discovery of the initial solution that we can iterate through the continuous improvement cycle of simpler, faster, better solutions.
4. “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
– Albert Einstein
Einstein’s genius stands the test of time. Simplification is an ultimate quest for all of us, but over-simplification of certain aspects of our business strategy may in fact kill our company. There is only so much we can simplify without sacrificing the ultimate functionality, quality and utility that sets apart our company’s offering from the others. Everything in excess is poison, and that applies to simplification.
5. “Our biggest limit is no longer the reach of our imagination. It’s now our inability to order, make sense of, and connect everything that demands our attention. We are failing to make the complex clear.”
– Bill Jensen, author of Simplicity
It is not really complexity that is holding us back; it is a lack of clear communication to our employees in how they can be successful in this new dynamic world with gazillion choices. It is having a deeper purpose (or meaning) of our organization’s existence, its core values and being able to clearly articulate that to all of our stakeholders in the simplest way possible.
6. “If necessity is the mother of invention, then complexity is the mother of innovation.”
– Sanjiv Karani
Complexity is the ultimate catalyst for innovation. It is a constant inspiration and motivation for all of us to conceive of simpler, faster, better, cheaper offerings that create strong value for the customers. These offerings can be new products, services, solutions, processes, customer interactions and/or business models. Complexity provides a clear focus and purpose to our innovation quest and enables us to be a resilient organization that is ready for any challenge.
What are your own unique experiences in the complexity/simplicity journey?