Wouldn't it be nice if doing business was as simple as finding a customer pain point and selling a solution that solves it? Unfortunately, in the process of delivering these solutions, some companies overcomplicate their business in ways that end up hurting it. That's why it's important to reduce complexity in business. Doing so can help increase the potential for growth, workplace productivity and profitability, while also boosting morale.
1. Be able to clearly state why the company exists and who it helps.
There are many times that employees have a difficult time articulating exactly what their company does. The answer may frequently change when multiple team members are asked.
To help reduce complexity in business, employees have to be able to state in one sentence what the company's mission is and who it helps. For example, my company's mission is to help small-business owners get unstuck.
2. Prioritize and then prioritize again.
There are many competing priorities in every company—that's why it's important to prioritize tasks on a monthly, weekly, daily and sometime hourly basis.
This can be done by deciding what are the two most important tasks that need to be completed today to move the company forward. When new tasks surface, you can filter them through these two priorities to see if they are more important.
Another way to categorize tasks is to rate them on an urgency and importance scale. If a task is urgent and important, it is a priority to be done right now. But if it is important and not urgent, it can be scheduled for a later time. If it is urgent but not important, it can be delegated to someone else.
And if a task is not urgent and not important, it can be taken off the list of things to be accomplished.
3. Practice single tasking.
While it might appear that a person can get more done by multitasking, it can make things more difficult, rather than reduce complexity in business.
A multitasker is trying to repeatedly balance many tasks at one time and is constantly switching their attention to something new. It's simpler to prioritize your tasks and focus on one thing at a time until it is fully completed.
Single tasking takes discipline and requires reducing distractions by doing things like turning off all the notifications on your devices or limiting interruptions in the office. But it can help reduce complexity in business.
4. Set up and stick with a process.
Many businesses accomplish daily tasks spontaneously and haphazardly without a set process. They are constantly “recreating the wheel" every single day.
To combat that, try automating whatever is repetitive and routine. Each department can create standard operating processes for all tasks for team members to follow routinely. This can help make accomplishing tasks and addressing exceptions easier.
5. Review all the rules and time wasters in the company.
Similarly, question what the purpose of certain rules are. Do they help the staff or the customer? If the answer is no, you may want to consider eliminating them. If staff members suspect that certain tasks are just time wasters, stop doing them for a week and determine if they have an impact on the company.
Also, consider reviewing how many people need to approve a certain initiative before it goes into effect. How many times does their input make the initiative better? Would it be easier if they just rubber stamped it?
If layers of approval don't add to the outcome, it may be time to eliminate them. Searching for redundancies and opportunities to make processes simpler can help reduce complexity in business.
6. Get employees to talk face to face.
It may seem simpler to send an email, Slack message or voicemail. But having two people talk face to face to resolve issues can actually help reduce complexity in business.
This is because the entire issue can be addressed at one time with all points of view. It also helps reduce the back and forth that characterizes other forms of communication.
7. Be honest about what does not work.
Employees in any organization know best about what actions are effective and which ones are a waste of time.
To help reduce complexity in business, you may want to make note of processes and people that unintentionally make things complicated. They can do this through overanalysis and unclear follow-up assignments. Using constructive feedback can help keep everyone realistic about which of their behaviors may be complicating the business.
Remember, whenever complexity is reduced, it tends to come back into the organization over time. Being diligent and regularly keeping an out eye out for bottlenecks and other issues can help companies achieve simplicity and clarity.
Read more articles on organizational productivity.