Document Detail

Simplicity-minded management. A practical guide to stripping complexity out of your organization.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  18283920     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Large organizations are by nature complex, but over the years new business challenges--globalization, innovative technologies, and regulations, to name a few--have conspired to add layer upon layer of complexity to corporate structure and management. Organizations have become increasingly ungovernable and unwieldy: Performance is declining, accountability is unclear, decision rights are muddy, and data are crunched repeatedly, often with no clear purpose in mind. To avoid frustration and inefficiency, executives need to systematically attack the causes of complexity in their companies. Ashkenas and his partners at Robert H. Schaffer & Associates have worked with dozens of firms to help them develop strategies for simplifying. In this article, the author details the elements of a simplicity-minded strategy: Streamline the structure; prune products, services, and features; build disciplined processes; and improve managerial habits. ConAgra Foods' experience illustrates how one company turned itself around through careful execution of a simplicity strategy. The packaged-food supplier had become enormously successful by acquiring well-known brands and then allowing them to operate autonomously, evolving into a $14 billion organization with more than 100 brands, a food services business, and a commodity trading operation. ConAgra, however, had no common method for reporting, tracking, or analyzing results. Over time, therefore, it became a highly unwieldy enterprise, riddled with inefficiencies and unable to communicate adequately with investors and other stakeholders. When CEO Gary Rodkin came on board, in 2005, he invested in a series of initiatives to combat complexity. The tactic not only made life easier for customers and employees but also saved millions of dollars in costs. This article has an online interactive questionnaire that can help you assess your own company's level of complexity.
Ron Ashkenas
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Harvard business review     Volume:  85     ISSN:  0017-8012     ISO Abbreviation:  Harv Bus Rev     Publication Date:  2007 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2008-02-20     Completed Date:  2008-03-14     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9875796     Medline TA:  Harv Bus Rev     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  101-9, 146     Citation Subset:  H    
Robert H. Schaffer & Associates, Stamford, Connecticut, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Commerce / organization & administration*
Efficiency, Organizational*
Management Quality Circles
Organizational Case Studies
United States

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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