“Simplicity is about subtracting the complexities, extracting the obvious, and adding in the meaningful”
Adapted from John Maeda and featured in Daniel Stoelb’s recent LinkedIn post ‘Whatever Happened to Simplicity in Lean/CIChange? ‘ (https://twitter.com/dstoelb). Well said both. It really struck a chord with me, based on recent Lean roles. Lean professionals should keep things simple enough so busy leaders and teams can understand what they need to do. They should introduce just enough data to demonstrate ‘what’s in it for them’. Encouraging even the simplest Lean structures, disciplines and measurements will add value to most new enterprises and small businesses.
However, now there is a sea-change of transformation, digital, dispersed working at work. I starkly realised this the other day, as I sat at home using five different pc/mobile devices to do a particular task and heard myself saying “How did this happen to me?” So, it’s 2016, and complexity is impacting us all. I’m hearing though, as organisations become more transformational, digital and dispersed, debates are ‘pre-raging’, that the Lean practitioner role is again becoming that of an ‘Expert’. The required Systems Thinking approach could be too complex to train others to use. Many believe that ‘Expert process maps’, ‘Expert’ databases, or ‘Expert’ reports are required to solve complex issues. My concern here is how can an ‘Expert’ secure time in a leader’s pressured schedule to deliver such pearls of complexity?
Despite the complexities, my approach is still that of an enabler – to take leaders, people and teams on the entire journey. How can organisations build a future state if they don’t understand the current state and the performance gap? How can they introduce meaningful data and measures if they don’t know (or care) what good looks like today? How can they embrace the brave new world, if they can’t feel the burning platform lapping round their ankles?
My argument for partnership working will not seem logical or obvious to all. Complexity is often seen as a reason to ‘wheel in’ the experts. However my experience tells me, over and over again, it’s essential to face complexity together, that is the only way to keep it manageably simple and sufficiently engaging. If practitioners take on complexity on behalf of the business, as a way of getting a foot in the door, at what point can that ‘doing’ relationship change to that of a change ‘enabler’ or ‘partner’?
As a business, an enterprise, or a Lean enabler or expert, I’d welcome your thoughts, experience and advice on any of this.