Systems, policies, procedures and rules create structure and drive behaviors that increase productivity. The challenge is, according to a recent Bain & Company research (as reported in an October Inc. Magazine article “Bound Up In Complexity”), “these systems also have the potential to create a stifling corporate bureaucracy, one that may introduce more complexity, attract the kind of employees who value process over innovation, and drive away the star employees whom some of the those policies were meant to help.”
Bain refers to this as the “complexity doom loop - business complexity begets organizational complexity, which begets process complexity...before you know it “people stop talking about acting or doing anything; they’re just content to be aligned.”
The ‘complexity doom loop’ isn’t limited to large corporations; small businesses exhibit the same behavior. Small businesses often, without thought, imitate Fortune XXX practices because it makes owners feel good. The reality however is quite different.
Complexity in small business paralyzes agility and quick decision-making which are essential to taking market share away from big players.
Complexity in small business causes a huge disruption in the form of employee turnover.
While complexity impedes growth and stifles entrepreneurial spirit, systems and process ensure consistent performance and customer service satisfaction. So how do you balance the two?
Stop taking yourself too seriously.
The only thing that matters is delivering consistent value to customers. Know and stay connected with your customers, they'll tell you what you must do to earn and keep their business.
And, while you should study how your competitors and peers are achieving success, never compromise, or risk, the advantages of being small.