Thursday, February 23, 2012

Desperately seeking simplicity.

The Harvard Business Review blog network has an article by Chris Zook, who is co-head of the Global Strategy Practice at Bain & Company (Now why does that name sound familiar, I wonder!!). I thought it worthwhile to abstract and paraphrase his thoughts - his comments derive from a theme that was omnipresent at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos:

that while events are unfolding in the world at an accelerating pace, increasingly complex institutions are less and less able to deal with them.
The problem seems
...not so much identifying what needed to be done as the lack of a plan for making the changes quickly enough.
In a survey, hundreds of leaders and executives...
...say that they do not face inadequate opportunities. Rather, their biggest barrier by far (about 85% of the time) relates to the internal complexity of their organizations and the management of their energy against that...a multi-year study of the root causes of enduring success...found an increasing premium to simplicity in the world of today — not just simplicity of organization, but more fundamentally to an essential simplicity at the heart of strategy itself...an inherent advantage in dealing with... faster moving markets and increased internal complexity due to ability to keep things simpler and more transparent than their rivals...companies who seemed best at creating enduring competitive advantage seemed to be able to maintain a simplicity at their core (think of companies like IKEA, Nike, or Vanguard for instance — very large in size, but with a clarity of strategy and purpose that jumps out at you).
This has its own parallel in the three attributes of great leaders of the future outlined in a talk by Daniel Goleman (Author of Emotional Intelligence):
1) authenticity and sharp clarity of purpose, 2) empathy and the ability to relate to people at the "front line" levels, and 3) self-awareness and humility to constantly question and adapt.

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