In their new book from Harvard Business Review Press—Six Simple Rules: How To Manage Complexity Without Getting Complicated—Boston Consulting Group partners Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman make a valiant attempt at helping increasingly complex organizations improve their performance in an increasingly complex world. We asked Morieux to be similarly valiant in boiling down their rules for Time.com readers. (You’re welcome!)
1. Understand what your employees actually do. “Most management approaches pay less attention to the day-to-day reality of how people behave and why, and instead add unnecessary functions and procedures. We use the term ‘smart simplicity’ to describe the approach of discovering what people actually do and why. The central insight? People act rationally, even if their actions create problems for the organization. They are trying to look after their own interests. The essence of smart simplicity is to understand that, and then change the conditions inside the organization so their interests align with what you need them to do.”
2. Find your fighters. Conflict is not necessarily a good thing in and of itself. But it can be a sign that people are actually doing the hard work of cooperating, which can be difficult and create tension and resentment. But the people who are resented might be the glue that holds cooperation together. We call them ‘integrators.’ They’re often not in positions of formal power. They often operate at the intersection between two groups. They have an interest in cooperation and the power to make collaboration happen.Integrators can be well-liked, but they can also be resented. They are forcing others to make hard choices. You can identify integrators by the fact that they are the focus of strong feelings, either positive or negative. Give integrators the power, incentives and authority to succeed.”
3. Give more people more power… “The real key to performance is combining cooperation with autonomy. The problem with standard approaches to an increasingly complex business environment is that by creating new layers and processes and systems to deal with these challenges you also sacrifice people’s autonomy. That makes the organization less agile. One of the effects of smart simplicity is to balance autonomy and cooperation. It gives people enough power to take the risk of interpreting rules, using their judgment and intelligence. If more employees have power to make decisions in your organization, that means they can solve problems on their own.
4. …and take away resources from everybody. “Having fewer resources means people have no choice but to rely on each other, which helps to foster cooperation. Think of a household with several people living in it. If those people own multiple televisions, there is no need for them to cooperate about what to watch. But if you take away all the televisions except one, they will have to cooperate. Do they want to watch baseball or Shakespeare?”
5. Make sure your employees eat their own cooking. “People work better when they understand–and have to live with–the consequences of their actions. A car company’s products were famously hard to repair. Then the company sent its engineers to work in repairs. Confronted with the repair problem themselves, they quickly found solutions to make cars easier to fix.”
6. Don’t punish failure—punish the failure to cooperate. “If people are afraid to fail, they will hide problems from you and your peers. Reward people who surface problems—and punish those who don’t come together to help solve them.”
Ok…so maybe not the 8 best TED talks ever but any list like this ultimately comes down to objectivity, right? One of my favorite past times while eating lunch at my desk, riding the train into the city, or just spacing out after a long day is tuning into Ted. You never know what you’re going to learn and that’s half the fun! So without further ado, I present the 8 TED Talks for marketers.
What do we do with all this big data?
Marketing cannot exist these days independently of analytics. Susan Etlinger, data analyst and author of “The Social Media ROI Cookbook” and “A Framework for Social Analytics” understands this point better than most. In her talk, Susan explains why, as we receive more data, we need to deepen our critical thinking skills.
“Data doesn’t create meaning. We do.” – Susan Etlinger
How to make a splash in social media
One of the easiest ways to get your brand out there is over social media. In fact, we’ve written extensively about it because it’s a landscape that, while valuable, is changing all the time. In this brief and incredibly entertaining talk, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian talks about one humpback whale’s rise to Web stardom.
“If you want to succeed, you’ve got to be okay with just losing control.” – Alexis Ohanian
3 ways to (usefully) lose control of your brand
The days are past (if they ever existed) when a person, company, or brand could tightly control their reputation – online chatter and spin mean that if you’re relevant, there’s a constant, free-form conversation happening about you that you have no control over. Frog CMO Tim Leberecht offers three big ideas about accepting that loss of control, even designing for it – and using it as an impetus to recommit to your values.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Tim Leberecht
How to get your ideas to spread
In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.
“You don’t have to be super outrageous to do this. What you have to do is figure out what people really want and give it to them.” – Seth Godin
Adventures in Twitter fiction
Do you know how to tell a good story? What’s drawing your readers in? What’s keeping them on your website? Andrew Fitzgerald is a member of the News and Journalism Partnerships team at Twitter. In this talk, he explores the short yet fascinating history of new forms of creative experimentation in fiction and storytelling.
“Creative people experimenting with the bounds of what is possible in this medium.” – Andrew Fitzgerald
Txting is killing language. JK!!!
Good writing is at the core of any successful marketing strategy. How can you aim for the coveted “thought leader” role if you can’t string a cohesive sentence together? In this talk, American linguist and political commentator John McWhorter posits that texting may not be killing writing ability quite as much as we’d like to think it does. And that’s because, according to McWhorter, it’s not actually writing.
“Texting is fingered speech.” - John McWhorter
Life lessons from an ad man
Advertising adds value to product by changing our perception, rather than the product itself. Advertising guru Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value – and his conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.
“All value is subjective and persuasion is better than compulsion.” – Rory Sutherland
As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify
This final video is not about marketing per say but something I find applicable to every company and tech start-up I’ve ever worked at. Today’s businesses are increasingly and dizzyingly complex – and traditional pillars of management are obsolete. Consultant Yves Morieux says it falls to individual employees to navigate the rabbit’s warren of interdependencies. Check out his talk outlining the six rules for “smart simplicity.”
“Manage the new complexity of business without getting complicated.” – Yves Morieux