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HBR case summary Simplicity-Minded Management (by Ron Ashkenas ). 1. Introduction. 1.1 Complexity, a Main Problem of a Company. As globalization, emerging technologies, and new regulations become important issues to companies, companies become more and more complex. Complexity.
1.1 Complexity, a Main Problem of a Company
As globalization, emerging technologies, and new regulations become important issues to companies, companies become more and more complex.
Issues to companies
1.2 Complexity in ConAgra Foods(real case)
Successful growth strategy eventually made ConAgra’s lack of cohesion and complexity.
ConAgra’s Growth Strategy
Acquiring well-known brands like Reddi-wip, Egg Beaters, Chef Boyardee, and Hebrew National
Allowing the acquired organizations to operate relatively autonomously
But, made it complex
2.1 Four main causes of complexity
There are four main causes of complexity, structural mitosis, product proliferation, process evolution and for the last, managerial habits.
2.2 How Managerial Habits Cause Complexity
The complexity is usually caused by the system of a company, but each individual in a company have significant effects on the complexity.
Poor meeting management
Unclear, redundant, or conflicting assignments
E-mail overload is a serious source of organizational complexity
Recirculation of documents in multiple drafts and redrafts is a significant sources of complexity
Presentations can overwhelm decision makers with data, arguments, and entertainment
Presentations that are so long and complex bore their audience
3.1 Streamline the Organizational Structure
Once managers have clearly framed simplification as a business imperative and connected it to measurable goals, managers can begin an ongoing attack on structural mitosis.
Transforming ConAgra Foods by Rodkin(1)
3.2 Prune Products, Services, and Features
There are some important questions: Are there too many of them? Which are profitable and have the greatest growth potential?
Transforming ConAgra Foods by Rodkin(2)
Potential for Divestment
Manage for Cash
More than100 brands were assumed to be equal
3.3 Build Disciplined Processes
By RoadMap, similar to the GE Work-Out, ConAgra Foods could make more efficient processes.
Concept of RoadMap
Critical, but improper process
Massive amounts of data that run hundreds of pages
Idea for redesigning the process
By RoadMap, ConAgra had a far simpler set of enterprisewide processesfor reporting, planning, capital expenditures and so on.
Employees related to the process
(more than 60 people)
3.4 Improve Managerial Habits
Managers need to identify how their own patterns of behavior complicate matters, and make a personal commitment to simplification.
What Rodkin did to improve managerial habits
“Jump ball problem”
Occasionally fail to specify which person should take the lead on a cross-functional or cross –unit issue
After discussing this tendency with the rest of the leadership team,
Rodkin was able to reduce the frequency of jump balls
There are some important messages which you need to keep in mind in this HBR case.
A simplification strategy must be treated as a business imperative, not a soft, “nice to have” virtue.
You need to keep in mind this phrase: “you can be the main source of the complexity which you hate.”
Making your organization simple and keeping it that way takes a lot of hard work