Why Today’s Modern Leader Must Reduce Complexity Everywhere

Accumulating. Complicating. The act of excuse-making. These are the things that make work terrible. And as a result they make customer experience terrible. Ask any customer and they can tell you an experience of having to go through red tape, work with unhappy employees, or work through a needlessly complicated process just to get the help or answer they need. This is because so many companies today are making things much more complicated than they need to be.

Many of our companies have long legacies and cultures. For someone outside the company, walking into the company is like stepping out on Mars: there’s no shortage of mess, and things are just strange and not quite how they should be. It can be hard for people within the organization to see the mess because they are so used to it. When we’re being real, many of our companies are a mess. A lot of that mess is due to unnecessary complexity from old, outdated ways of doing business. Today’s businesses have more nonsense than ever before, which is holding them back from helping society and providing a high-quality customer experience.

Leaders today must be the most talented organizers in the world. In fact, the most important attribute of a modern leader is the ability to cut complexity everywhere. Good leaders have the ability to take large, complex things and make them very simple. They can look at a mess and visualize the simplification of it. We need more leaders who know how to make complicated messy things manageable, possible, and simple. In order to do that, leaders need to fight against two of the biggest problems contributing to complexity: a lack of honesty and hoarding.

Too many businesses today aren’t transparent and don’t tell the truth. To fight against that, leaders need to be direct and say what they think. Although it can often have a negative connotation to speak your mind freely, it can lead to hugely positive results for an organization. Truth tellers, especially at the top of an organization, are a huge benefit because they tell it like it is and can replace complexity with simplicity. Oftentimes, complexity builds over time because people just accept things for how they are and how they always have been instead of taking a stance and pointing out when something is pointlessly complicated. If there’s a problem or a process that is more complicated than it needs to be, speak up! Make your voice heard and don’t let a lack of transparency or bad programs continue. It’s easier and simpler to be honest and transparent than to hide behind complex programs and systems.

There are also issues with hoarding, and leaders need to be the ones who come in to clean out the office. Just like a messy workspace can slow down how much work gets done, so can an organization that is messy with ideas and programs. Cleaning out the office can be a cleansing of ideas, people, or processes that get in the way of a simple and effective organization. People who complicate things will slowly be “exit”ed from the building. There’s no room or time for them. Over time, organizations gather ideas and things that no longer serve employees, like outdated practices, bad culture, or technology that just isn’t cutting it. Having extra things hanging around an organization slows down productivity and hurts the customer experience. Leaders need to be able to cut through the clutter, get rid of what doesn’t matter, and stop things from being hoarded in the future.

The simplifiers of the world will become the great leaders of tomorrow. Take a bold stance to tell the truth and purge things that just aren’t serving the company any more. Organizations that simplify and let go of complexity will be the ones leading the charge and the brands that can focus on what matters most—serving their customers.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author of More Is More, and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here. Go farther and create knock your socks-off customer experiences in your organization by enrolling in her new Customer Experience School.

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