Simplification: Slay your organizational monsters

November 2016

By: Mirella Pisciuneri

As Frédéric Chopin once said: “Simplicity is the final achievement.” From the perfect shape of a drop of water, to a sprinter’s purely refined strides, or the final crystalline note of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, simplicity is both discreet and strikingly powerful. 

Organizations often fail to see simplification as a problem-solving approach. The usual response to a problem is to implement a new process, create a new committee, or put in place a new legal entity. We have all been in this movie before: these kinds of solutions many times end up adding more tasks and paperwork, without really solving the problem at hand.

Simplification is an efficient way of taking care of many issues. Like a tree that needs to be pruned to bear fruits, your organization’s structure and processes need to be trimmed to create value. This process is not easy, but it is –as it should be– simple. Let’s see what you can do to simplify your organization and turn it into the lean, value-creating machine you want it to be.

Everything Should Have a Purpose

Everything in your business and every aspect of your organization should serve a clear objective. But too often we start implementing a new process, or restructuring a department with the best of intentions, only to have the original project turn into an organizational monster.

Take the time to revisit the purpose of … well, everything! For example, is your complex corporate structure really justified by legal needs or other bona fide reasons?

When evaluating the purpose of your organization’s processes and structure, keep in mind the following three golden rules:

  • Everything should have a purpose.
  • That purpose should be clear and aligned with your business objectives.
  • Anything that does not serve this purpose should be eliminated.

Simplify oversight responsibilities

A reliable tell-tale sign of over-complexity is the number of people with oversight responsibilities in a given project or process. The higher the number, the slower the process. At the end of the day, you realize you have spent all your time reporting or following-up on projects that have not advanced one iota. 

You can tackle this problem by simplifying your organizational chart. Assign clear responsibilities in terms of oversight and reporting, map them out and ensure they are understood and respected by all.  

Forego Consensus

While in some areas consensus can be desirable, remember that great ideas are almost never accepted unanimously. Why? Because they are bold, challenging, and disrupt the status quo. Trying to reach a consensus can create unnecessary complexity and derail innovative ideas and projects. How can you simplify this? Forego consensus. Accept that some people will not be happy at first when asked to change the way they’ve been working. Be confident that if your idea really is great and beneficial to your organization, these opponents will quickly be turned into proponents when they see the results.

Shave of Complexity

Simplification is the pragmatic approach to almost all disciplines. For centuries, it has been used by scientists, philosophers and mathematicians to push their work to new heights. So get with the program, simplify and take your company to the next level!

Learn more: How can organizations improve efficiency?

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About Richter
: Founded in Montreal in 1926, Richter is a licensed public accounting firm that provides assurance, tax and wealth management services, as well as financial advisory services in the areas of organizational restructuring and insolvency, business valuation, corporate finance, litigation support, and forensic accounting. Our commitment to excellence, our in-depth understanding of financial issues and our practical problem-solving methods have positioned us as one of the most important independent accounting, organizational advisory and consulting firms in the country. Richter has offices in both Toronto and Montreal. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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