Reducing the complexity of your business

Welcome to our online discussion of all things ISO, where we answer questions from you out in the field to get you a better understanding of what the standard is asking you to do, and the benefits that will surely follow. Today we’re talking about one of the more common questions we’re asked as organizations grow: how to reduce the complexity of that business.

As businesses evolve and improve, they start to get all these different things happening that create complexity. People forget what they need to do as things chop and change, and go both backwards and forwards. I've observed that it's definitely something that happens here at Best Practice too, so I've got a tip for you on how we reduce complexity. That is to simplify. Go from complex to simple.

Keeping it simple is a great principle. I’m often asked: “How do I simplify?” In response, my tip to you is to focus on the numbers, envisage what exactly is the number that you want to achieve now. People get really worried, and if we focus too much on that number it might act contrary to our goal and indeed create more problems. In light of this, be aware that it may well create a problem, so if you're focusing on top-line revenue, you want to grow the top-line revenue of the organization, you want to grow the profit of the organization the more you dig down and focus on that number; of course it's going to create problems elsewhere in the organization, that's why you get more complicated, but the most important thing is to simplify the numbers.

You're going to imagine, measure, and then say, “Okay - we’re players on a team, how are we going to get to that number.” That's the most exciting thing, so what we're doing here at Best Practice is we look at our performance dashboard, and we take a look at our numbers. In turn, we can start to say: “Well, let's give the team the awareness, knowledge, skills and training that they need to get their number,” and then the processes don't get too complicated because they know exactly what they need to do.

Each team can help in this stage of the process. Management might chip in with some suggestions, the same with our bottom line, the same with our clients, the same with our trends.

Quality improvements and our customer satisfaction are some of the best gauges you’ve got to track how you’re moving. Make a proactive attempt to look for simplification opportunities, look at your numbers, and be very clear on the numbers that you want to achieve. In turn, you can start looking at how they affect each other. At Best Practice, we've got a dashboard of 30 statistics that we track, measure and report every Monday at 11 o'clock. Now, we still do get that complicated things, look complicated, but I noticed that they get more complicated when people stop focusing on the numbers.

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