3 signs you’re struggling with complexity

In this post, we will share 3 signs that your organization is dealing with out-of-control complexity level. The main reason for uncontrolled complexity is management that is not fit for current world reality.

We need some level of complexity for any organization. When it exceeds a certain level, complexity is a problem.  Complexity is defined by the number of parts that create a system (or organization) and the number of relationships between them. As the system is more complex (more elements and connections), it’s also more unexpected. The unexpectedly of a complex organization is issue organizations need to contain to a certain level.

If you have all the below signs, think seriously how to get external help to adjust your current management. If you don’t have any sign, PLEASE invite me! I want to see the magic.

1st sign: Communication issues. This is one of the most common issues organizations are dealing with. As you have more people and you create more connections between them, it’s harder to remember what needed to communicate with whom. There are two options that increase communication issues. Don’t update others or send an update to anyone. Every hierarchical organization already has the formal hierarchical structure and the hidden, but real network structure. If we’ll add the common matrix structure, we will add three types of structures. So who do I need to update? If you see communication issue all the time at the top of the list of concerns, you are dealing with too much complexity.

2nd sign: Focus on cost-effectiveness and governance. Most of the people wired to think that if something worked for them in the past, it will work for them in the future as well. Control, especially central control, and efficiency were key to the success of organizations in the past. Therefore, when people feel or see complexity they believe that if they will increase governance and efficiency, they will defeat complexity. In reality (and there are a lot of datasets to support it) this approach just increases complexity. There are different ways to deal with complexity, and they are not something that you used in the past. When you see that cost-effectiveness and governance steadily increasing, you know that you are dealing with a high level of complexity.

3rd sign: There are always crises that need emergency resolution. When the complexity level is too high for an organization, we perceive every event as a crisis that needs an immediate solution (even if it’s not). High complexity creates a lower level of expectancy. When you don’t know what to expect every event looks like a crisis. When people perceive an event as a crisis, they will do everything they can to resolve it as fast as they can. When you see that you are moving from one crisis to another, that’s a clear sign that you are dealing with a high level of complexity that management doesn’t know how to deal with.

I would list the solutions if they were easy and applicable to all organizations, but they are not. Each organization needs to have the intent to make a change and after that invest time to find what from the supermarket of modern management ideas works for them. I also want to be clear that there isn’t any solution that resolves all issues. Every solution that you adopt will create new problems. You need to make sure that the new problems are not more severe than the one you are resolving.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.