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Start with Business Simplification

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Jalene Ippolito October 27th, 2016

Business simplification is increasingly recognized as a strategic requirement for companies seeking to innovate and succeed in today’s complex business environment. As your business grows, the bolted-together systems and processes that worked when your company was smaller won’t scale sufficiently to support new customers, employees, product lines and service offerings.

Equally important, there’s a natural tendency for companies to create more complex processes over time. This occurs as an accommodation to new customer demands or to work around disconnected systems. And as they build up, these complex processes create inefficiencies, drive up costs and make your business less agile.

But if barriers keep slowing down your simplification efforts, you’re not alone. A recent Knowledge@Wharton paper, Business Simplification 2015: The Unmet Strategic Imperative offers proof of that. Companies battle everything from a resistant culture (often due to fear that simplification will lead to lost jobs) to managers who lack the time to implement new systems, processes and policies.

How to Simplify Successfully

Recognizing the unnecessary complexities in your business is the first step. But many companies struggle to get past this, as they start implementing fixes that are...you guessed it, complex! The key to successful simplification initiatives is to start simple. Sometimes the best way to get the ball rolling is to focus on one or two processes – for example, a decision making and an approval process. Then empower the people closest to those processes to simplify their daily work.

The project should have clear-cut goals and incentives tied to performance.

This approach to simplification changes people and culture from the bottom up, paving the way for acceptance of larger initiatives that require a more top-down, technology-driven approach.
Such projects still need to have the support of top management and be tied to strategic initiatives, of course. But the goal is to build momentum around the goals and benefits of business simplification.

People can experience first-hand that it’s really just adopting a simpler way of working that reflects proven business practices. And they can realize the benefits directly, right away.

So where do you see opportunities to start simple with simplification within your business?

October 27th 2016
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