Strategic Management Begins with Simplification

Strategic Management Begins with Simplification

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson once tweeted, “Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to make something simple.”

It’s a truism that applies to businesses at every stage of growth. Business leaders—especially entrepreneurs—are prone to following the next great idea. Over time, the resulting mission creep leads their organizations down too many paths at once. At some point the leadership team finds itself struggling to get beyond the ceiling created by their self-imposed complexity. 

The Entrepreneurial Operating System® helps business leaders simplify and streamline their companies. As I’ve written before, some of that process requires uncluttering the leadership’s thought process. Successful businesses take that uncluttering a step further, by simplifying their day-to-day processes. EOS® makes that possible.

Sometimes complexity isn’t smart

Smart people often fall into the trap of turning a simple problem into a behemoth. When you know a lot, it’s tempting to put all that knowledge to work all the time. The trouble comes when all those book smarts add needless complexity, which in the business world translates to wasted time, effort, and money.

I recently talked to a CEO of a medium-sized business who told me she’d had an epiphany during her company’s Focus Day™. “The first time I saw the Accountability Chart I thought we were going to have to throw it out,” she said. “We had a big chart with layers of reporting responsibility already mapped out. We probably spent two hours trying to impose our chart on the EOS chart, and everyone was frustrated.”

All it took was taking a step back. “After a break our coach suggested we look again at what EOS suggested, and it was like a flash of lightning. All at once we saw that we’d been sabotaging ourselves trying to add in things that weren’t doing anything at all for us.” Their Accountability Chart did end up with a few unique wrinkles, but the basic idea—clear division of responsibilities, with clear chains of accountability up and down the structure—gave them the framework they needed to move ahead.

EOS provides strategic tools for simplifying complexity

Successful businesses are founded on big ideas. A big idea might be easily expressed in a short phrase, but turning the idea into reality always brings up tons of details. Visionaries often get bogged down trying to make sense of all those details.

Identifying an Integrator is the first step EOS businesses take in addressing the mountain of details lurking behind their ideas. But just having an Integrator isn’t enough if the team doesn’t have the right tools.

People who are new to EOS can be forgiven for mistaking the simplicity of some of the system’s ideas as a sign that it lacks depth. But as Richard Branson said, “It is hard to make something simple.”

The Issues Solving Track™ is a great example. Identify, discuss, solve—or IDS for short—is a process that seems obvious once it’s put down on paper. The Issues Solving Track is part of EOS because without a shared framework for fixing problems a business can tie itself up in knots.

 Most conversations about trouble spots in a business begin with everyone in the room coming at the problem from different angles. Without a framework, what should be a simple issue can become a mess of competing and contradictory topics.

An Integrator at one of my clients loves to IDS. “It’s become a mantra for us,” he said to me. “All someone needs to say is, ‘Let’s IDS it,’ and the tension goes out of the room. The IDS process lets us step back, regroup, and hit the problem from the same direction.”

Starting EOS is simple!

As anyone who has adopted EOS will tell you, the tools in the EOS toolbox aren’t hard to understand, but it still takes effort to integrate them all into the day-to-day and quarter-to-quarter flow of a business. That’s where I come in. As a Professional EOS Implementer® I constantly look for fresh ways to teach these ideas so clients can begin to reap the benefits of EOS in their lives.

How do you keep things simple in our complicated world? I’d love to hear your stories. Send me an email or give me a call if you’d like to talk about your business, EOS, or anything else that’s on your mind.