We knew we had struck a collective workplace nerve when our 2014 Human Capital trend on The Overwhelmed Employee proved to be one of the most popular articles Deloitte has ever published. Widespread interest in the topic was further confirmed in our 2015 trends research, in which more than 7 out of 10 surveyed organizations rated the need to simplify work as an “important problem,” with more than 25 percent citing it as “very important.”
The drivers of workplace complexity are many and varied—to name a few:
Some companies are already taking steps to simplify the workplace, reduce administrative burdens, and streamline complex processes. Here are five ways they’re thinking and acting differently.
1. Design the organization for agility and small teams.1
This increase in autonomy has the added advantage of reducing organizational layers. Organizations are also analyzing what Geoffrey Moore calls “core” and “context” activities2 to better focus on what truly differentiates them, a practice that is further supported by consolidating common services to gain efficiencies and free resources for more strategic pursuits.
2. Do regular portfolio analysis.
The left column “Run the business” activities should be routine, without requiring a lot of resources, time, or dedication. The same holds true for those off-the-shelf items in the lower right quadrant, taking advantage of what’s already been invented to be successful at things like project management, customer service, and sales techniques. This really allows organizations to focus more time and effort on custom, market-differentiating skills, competencies, and processes—the top right quadrant.
3. Apply design thinking to processes.
4. Centralize functions and rationalize service delivery.
5. Make work easier to manage.
The need to simplify work is an evolving trend and so are the solutions. Organizations—Deloitte included—are still learning and experimenting. Simplification isn’t simple, and we have work to do in the quest to make work better, not harder. Our recent Dbriefs webinar “Simplification of Work: The Coming Revolution?” explores the topic in more detail. You can view the archived (60-minute) session here.
1 Source: Ron Ashkenas, “Simply Effective: How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done.” Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, 2010.
2 See more at http://www.dealingwithdarwin.com/theBook/darwinDictionary.php#Technologyadoptionlifecycle.
3 Source: Josh Bersin, Training Investment Model®, The Blended Learning Book, Bersin by Deloitte.
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