By Simon Tomlinson, director, The Logistics Business
The belief that all you need do is de-complicate your organisation and all will be well is resulting in some organisations going too far. They are failing to recognise and therefore manage the complexities that are inherent in the modern economic world. Of course it is easy to over-complicate through excessive bureaucracy and lack of prioritisation in dealing with problems and issues. But things are often complicated enough.
In some cases KISS has created additional tensions and stresses in middle management. Senior manager’s instruction to adopt KISS can often result in more junior staff having to deal with the complexity on their own, masking it from their boss in order not to appear incompetent.
Especially in supply chain, KISS has considerable appeal. After all, each step or element in a supply chain is usually very simple. Even the most advanced automated warehouse is made up of many very simple pieces of equipment. It is only when those elements are brought together into a fully functioning system that the complexity arises.
With so many inter-dependant elements, an action in one place can ripple through the system and have unexpected consequences in another. And so it is with supply chains. It is only when all of the thousands of individual elements are brought together in one long supply chain, or supply network, that the complexity arises. Indeed complexity is inherent within the supply chain.
Some have tried to take complexity out by sub-contracting various aspects to third parties. This can be a very powerful way of ensuring that the majority of management attention is given to those aspects of your business that add most value, but it should not be seen as a way of removing complexity. Even if you outsource a business process you must not outsource your understanding of it, nor ignore it in the way you manage your business. The complexity therefore remains.
Moderation in all things used to be a useful motto for living ones life but it is not an adequate way of managing a modern business. Excellence in all things is increasingly becoming the key to success and that means coping with and adapting to the levels of complexity inherent in your business. Not over complicating but neither ignoring the complexities that are there.
Perhaps we need a new acronym – DOSS (Don’t Over Simplify Stupid). I suggest we should beware of KISS and think more about DOSS.