Complexity vs. Simplicity

Written by: David McClaskey, President, McClaskey Excellence Institute

3 ways that we overcomplicate management:


Having Too Many Rules

Having different rules for different groups of people and having different rules for each location.


Allowing Grey Area

Management teams often make the mistake of creating rules that can be interpreted differently by different people. The different interpretations can lead to people observing the same event and some saying the event met the rule while others say the event did not meet the rule.


No Room For Exceptions

Every time you have an exception, it is like having yet another rule or policy to communicate and enforce.  The complexity comes from both the number of rules that have to be enforced as well as having to decipher between when an exception should and should not be applied.  Exceptions are usually complex to both communicate and enforce, since often you are trying to differentiate between two events that are very similar but different in some small way. This is a major way in which “gray areas” are created.

The solution for simplicity

At McClaskey Excellence Institute, we exemplify and teach the following practices to minimize complexity in any industry:

Ellipse 1

Have one rule applied everywhere with no exceptions.

To remove any grey area, make the rules behaviorally-based and written such that if three people observe the same event, one of which being the performer, they would all come to the same conclusion as to whether the event met or did not meet the rule.

In both the Achieving World-Class Results and LEAN classes, we enjoy showing examples of where Pal’s Sudden Service has applied these principles to their management system. One rule that keeps our stores among the most neat and organized in the industry is: “Everything has a place and is in its place.” This applies to everything all the time with no exceptions. The beauty of this rule is the simplicity, ease of both communication and enforcement.

Application challenge: pick a rule in your organization and apply the following questions:


If three people observe the same event, one of which being the performer, would they all come to the same conclusions as to whether the event met or did not meet the rule?


Are there exceptions to the rule? If so, can the exceptions be minimized or eliminated?

Comment and let us know if this was helpful for your company!

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