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Simply Effective: How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done

Book Description

The level of complexity in most organizations today is staggering-and it's only getting worse. There are so many choices to be made, people to involve, processes to manage, and facts to analyze, it's impossible to get things done. And in today's hypercompetitive world, that can be fatal.

Yet complexity doesn't happen on its own. Managers unwittingly create it, often through well-intended decisions. In Simply Effective, Ron Ashkenas provides a playbook for regaining control, focused on the four major causes of complexity:

-Constant changes in organizational structures
-Proliferation of products and services
-Evolution of business processes
-Time-wasting managerial behaviors

The author provides a diagnostic for identifying how these causes of complexity are affecting your organization-and presents practical tactics for combating each one.

Ashkenas also explains how to craft a strategy that will make simplification an ongoing driver of your company's success-no matter where you work in your organization. Abundant examples from companies like ConAgra Foods, GE, Cisco, Zurich Financial Services, and Johnson & Johnson illuminate his points.

A crucial resource in today's overly complex age, Simply Effective should be required reading for everyone on your management team.

Table of Contents

  1. Praise for Simply Effective
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Table of Contents
  5. PREFACE
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. A Final Word: Simplicity Can Make a Difference
  8. ONE - Unmasking Organizational Complexity
    1. How Complexity Creeps In
    2. Simplicity as Competitive Advantage
    3. The Four Sources of Complexity in Organizations
    4. Making Simplicity into Strategy
    5. Countering Complexity at ConAgra Foods
    6. Are You Ready for Simplification?
  9. TWO - Simplifying Structure
    1. Flaws in Hierarchical Simplicity
    2. Three Unwitting Complexity Traps in Designing Organizations
    3. Starting Over: How to Get Out of the Complexity Traps
    4. GlaxoSmithKline IT: Simplifying Structure Pays Off
    5. You Can Design for Simplicity
  10. THREE - Reducing Product Proliferation
    1. How Products and Services Unwittingly Contribute to Complexity
    2. Overcoming Product-Related Complexity
    3. Product Simplification: A Challenge That Never Ends
  11. FOUR - Streamlining Processes
    1. The Challenge of Process Complexity
    2. How Process Evolution Unintentionally Adds to Complexity
    3. Five Tools for Process Simplification
    4. Process Simplification: Connecting What, Why, and How
  12. FIVE - Curbing Complexity-Causing Behaviors
    1. A Tale of Two Managers
    2. The Complexity Blind Spot: Too Much of a Good Thing
    3. Leadership Behaviors That Cause Complexity: Unintentional Upsets
    4. What’s a Manager to Do? How to Become Conscious About Unconscious Behaviors
    5. A Never-Ending Quest
  13. SIX - Strategy for Simplicity
    1. Building Simplicity into the Culture of GE
    2. But What If You’re Not GE?
    3. Putting It All Together: Strategy for Simplicity
  14. SEVEN - Simplicity Starts with You
    1. If Not You, Who?
    2. Opportunities for Impact
    3. Simplicity-Minded Management: The Next Frontier
  15. NOTES
  16. INDEX
  17. ABOUT THE AUTHOR