A Brief Note on Complexity and Enterprise Growth

"Complexity of railways in Paris" by Armando G Alonso'

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Business Strategy
Written by Lateef Mauricio

A Brief Note on Complexity and Enterprise Growth

Every enterprise, like every person, is on a unique journey. Though, the ultimate goal is usually the same: maximize return on investment. That’s investment in time, money, reputation, etc. — basically, your opportunity cost. I help organizations solve problems that get in the way of earning that return – and for the most part, this has found me working in roles within marketing, policy, research, creative, and technology units.

Throughout my career I have consistently found that growing enterprises inevitably face the “complexity problem.” In order to grow, you have to embrace more complexity in the way business is conducted – failure to manage this complexity creates tremendous uncertainty – which equals nothing more than pure, uncontrolled risk.

The complexity problem can manifest anywhere – and most of the time, it can be acutely observed when it harms the customer, end-user, the public – the parties that pay rents and expect a return. Clarity of vision, alignment of people, creative license, and soul play a big role in resolving complexity – without sacrificing facts, data, and objectivity.

This clarity is often found in forward-looking enterprises that preempt the risks caused by unmanaged complexity. In this video, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman eloquently explains the concept of going through a “pre-mortem” technique to eliminate thinking biases – rewarding “people for being imaginative, finding flaws in the current plan.” Though there is much rationality behind this technique, many organizations are reluctant to embrace it – because often times the illusion of success is motivator enough to bypass thorough risk analysis. Yet, it is during an enterprise’s high-growth stage that critical thinking, imagination, and objectivity are most vital to the management of complexity.

How are you addressing complexity in your organization?

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