Sunday, January 14, 2018

“Simplexity” as the Characteristic of Digital Maturity

Either at individual or business level, we should follow the “simplicity” principle to handle the over-complex digital reality with “VUCA” characteristics. 

Modern businesses become over-complex every day, they also become part of the dynamic and complex digital ecosystem. If we accept the business and the world are complex, somewhat unpredictable or not completely predictable, we have to accept uncertainty. Because uncertainty comes with complexity. Simplicity vs. complexity is not only an age-old dilemma but also the opposite ends of the same spectrum. Complexity can either stimulate or stifle innovation. In fact, “Simplexity” is a portmanteau word to reflect the digital reality and how to strike the right balance to achieve the next level of digital maturity.

Complexity: Due to the “VUCA” nature of digitalization, business complexity is unavoidable. It becomes complex if things do interact, particularly in the case of "nonlinear" interaction, you can't separate things properly or you cannot predict the actual effect of interaction straightforwardly. Considering there is no universally agreed definition of complexity, in the corporate scope, there are hierarchical complexity, environmental complexity, information complexity, collaboration complexity, design complexity, governance complexity, etc. Imagine the complexity that comes in due to these characteristics such as, less structure, rules and regulations, diversity, volatility, ambiguity, unpredictability, lack of linearity and increased flux, etc, working and impacting together. In fact, complexity has increased exponentially and has become the part of digital new normal. The complexity can be good or bad for businesses depending on your strategy and capability. There are needed complexity and unwanted complexity. One one side, there is no intelligence without the certain level of complexity, complexity is a property of intelligence. On the other side, complication or unwanted complexity will stifle innovation and decrease productivity. From management lenses, typically look at complexity from a business impact perspective as well as from a business solution perspective. Companies that are skilled at managing complexity can gain advantages by pushing the boundaries of a more sophisticated business mix. Complexity usually involves early in the life-cycle and careful examination of numbers and types of stakeholders across the organization. The effective complexity management can provide opportunities to create inter-business value and differentiated business competency.


Simplicity: Simplicity means or is related to too many things such as manageability, availability, scalability, flexibility, reliability, robustness, sensitivity, comprehensiveness, speed, responsiveness, etc. Take a close look at simplicity from different management lenses as well - Is it “the simplicity from developer’s perspective” or “simplicity from customers perspective” or “simplicity from management perspective-solution lifecycle maintenance cost perspective.” As the saying is going, simplicity is the optimal level of complexity. Simplicity is the building blocks. There is a relationship between simplicity and clarity. Simplicity is the design of looking for what is common for maximum reuse. But how do you know that simplicity is "just right"? How do you know you have the minimum required complexity, as to support flexibility without hurting the support/maintenance costs? To achieve simplicity, you would have to address the complexities of the subject matter. Simplicity can be expressed via comprehensive abstract. Simplicity is a behavioral attitude to see things as and what and where they are and be content and cool as it is. An organization achieves the state of digital equilibrium through its optimized management layers, resilient process, and elastic capacity.

Simplexity: “Simplexity” is a portmanteau word to reflect the digital reality. In the core of simplicity lies complexity. Often, the more simple people perceive in any system, problem or living being is inherently more complex. When a business becomes overly complex and people get frustrated and annoyed by not being able to accomplish things easily, this drives the search for simpler concepts and methods. The emergent digital complexities include hyper-connectivity, hyper-diversity, hyper-dynamism, and the non-linear complexity such as less structure and multi-dimensional views, or design complexity such as highly productive complexity, value/cost/risk ratio complexity. Simplicity is the pertinent portmanteau word mixing with two words "Simplicity," and "Complexity," which well-describes the digital new normal philosophically. The art of digital management is not to complicate things, but to eliminate unnecessary complication. That means over-complexity in a business may be hiding simple and innovative ways to achieve things because the people involved just don't get the time to step back from the complexity. Therefore, the management needs to encourage desired complexity, simplify and optimize the business for reaching the next level of digital maturity.

Either at individual or business level, we should follow the “simplicity” principle to handle the over-complex digital reality with “VUCA” characteristics -Velocity, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. “Less is more” needs to become the digital principle for tuning modern enterprise structure and design, not about less intelligence, but about debureaucracy and optimization, as well as on how to improve business adaptability, responsiveness, flexibility, speed, and equilibrium.


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