An initiative has started at work aimed at making the organisation “simpler”. One is invited to submit ideas as to how, and I suppose it is an initiative to be encouraged.

Having said that, I’ve come across these sorts of initiatives before and they always make me smile somewhat. The implication tends to be that what we have “now” (assumed to be the nightmarish non-simple “complex” organisation) somehow came about on its own. It just “grew” like weeds and brambles taking over your otherwise perfect and well designed garden. No-one was responsible for the complexity building up. It just happened somehow, by itself, right?

This is nonsense of the highest order. Complex organisations don’t just happen: they are designed that way. We made them. So it’s a bit rich that we now complain about what we’ve done and want to undo it, but without acknowledging how we got into the complexity in the first place. It wasn’t some random serendipitous event that brought it about.

I recently saw a television interview where a politician was complaining that police officers do too much desk-based office work and they need to reduce it.

I don’t think it occurred to him that the desk-based office work was there because politicians like him had told the police to do it. People don’t create administration and beaurocracy themselves. It has to be as a response to some stimulus or instruction. You might also want to ask him why the admin tasks were brought in at all if lots of time and effort will be spent removing it all again later…

Then there was the UK government department that for years was called the Department of Trade and Industry. Then for a while it was bizzarly renamed Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. The ‘Regulatory Reform’ bit seemingly also coming from the ‘simplicity’ agenda. Again, it seemed to have escaped politicians notice that the very ‘regulations’ in need of ‘reform’ (i.e. were supposedly ‘bad’) were the very ones created and passed by the politicians. Yet they were again behaving as if it was a case of taking a flame thrower to the stinging nettles.

Life is not a series of chance events: It is the product of decisions that people
consciously make. These decisions might not always be good ones, but they nonetheless exist. We can’t deny them and pretend everything around us is random. It is important to learn WHY our environment is the way it is and what led us there. Only then can we make meaningful decisions about change – simplicity or no simplicity.

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