Pi Attitude Zone: Conformity & Stability

The Threat From Complexity

Running a business has become intimidatingly complicated.

First, there are unimaginable volumes of data to be mined, number-crunched, and analyzed.  There are sometimes baffling cultural differences between countries that have to be factored into the plan, as all business keeps trending towards the global. 

Then there’s the proliferation of new products:  a recent Global Electronics Forum in Shanghai featured 22,000 new products.  Just keeping track of the competition can be like getting lost in a labyrinth.

There’s also the increasingly unforgiving onrush of deadlines and reduced deadlines:  nearly two-thirds of the money made by a company like Apple comes from products that have been on the market for four years or less.  Drop the ball or suffer an off year, and the consequence can be cataclysmic.  William Shalman of the Harvard Business School has warned about “The big eraser in the sky, wiping out all that cleverness and effort” at a single stroke.  Sometimes it feels like a game of three-dimensional chess.

Some of the complexity in business tracks back to a deep-rooted urge on the part of management types to complicate everything for no particular reason. The inventor of the KISS principle (“Keep It Simple, Stupid”) seems to have had little influence on the inventors of fiendishly complex financial derivatives (result: ever bigger financial crashes) or builders of giant diversified multinational conglomerates (which have tended to implode when managers don’t understand the unfamiliar businesses they pump their shareholders’ money into).

Some companies have succeed by imposing simplicity in their business model before complexity has a chance to get a toe-hold.  As an example, Tupperware brands depends on its three million freelance salespeople around the world.  The business succeeds because at the core of the model there are simple things that focus everyone’s efforts and give everyone a sense of common direction and purpose.

Pi says:  what’s complicated about that? 

Zone: Conformity & Stability Country: Multiple Geographies Product – Business / Professional