Keeping things simple
I’m renewing my campaign on keeping things simple. It’s long been one of our hallmarks as consultants to help our clients make complex things simple. Perhaps it’s in the nature of management to proliferate frameworks and systems and measurement. It sometimes takes an outside view to help organisations back to the essence.
Adrian Furnham, Professor of Psychology at University College London, wrote recently in The Sunday Times of the perverse consequences of performance management systems. They’re meant to systematise how things are done and to encourage the less good performers to do better. Instead, with their complex rules and targets and metrics, they tie up the best performers in red tape and allow the worst performers to play games. I once had a client who introduced a performance management system with a 76 page book of guidance. They then wondered a year on why it wasn’t working.
So let’s get back to the simple things: good managers who are clear with those who work for them about what is required, support them to deliver those things, are able to have tough conversations with them when they aren’t delivering; good leaders who can look beyond their BlackBerries to the longer term, ask the hard questions and challenge their organisations to grow and deliver more. Let’s remove the organisational cobwebs – those over-engineered performance and reward systems, the crazed strictures of procurement bureaucrats, the non value adding paraphernalia imposed by corporate centres.
One of our current clients has a doctrine of making things simple. If you’re reading this, I encourage you to play your part in challenging these over complex systems. Ask what their real purpose is. Ask whether they really serve that purpose. Then be rigorous is cutting them back to the simplest system to meet their purpose.