How do you measure up on the Simplicity Scale? Score yourself from 0 to 5 for each of the statements below. Focus primarily on the area of the organisation for which you have direct responsibility.

  1. We have a clear strategic intent that, in simple, everyday terms, articulates how we will succeed (e.g. Southwest Airlines: We are the low-fare airline).
  2. As a management team we have identified a handful of objectives (say, 3-6) that drive our focus and activity.
  3. We have crystal-clear accountabilities across the business, and I am never concerned that I am stepping on someone else’s toes.
  4. I know exactly how to get approval for a new investment or initiative.
  5. In a typical week I spend less than a quarter of my time in formal meetings.
  6. We have minimised the number of management layers – there is no further room for improvement.
  7. Our planning and budgeting process is short, sharp and effective, taking less than three months from start to finish.
  8. When a new programme or assignment isn’t working it is quickly adjusted or killed – we do not allow problems to fester.
  9. I set my team clear objectives, but leave it to them to work out the best way forward.
  10. In the past six months we have taken big strides in removing unnecessary complexity from our organisation.

So how do you measure up? Compare your total score to the ratings below.

Over 40: Complexity under control, for now – You’re highly effective and productive, but make sure you stay alert to the creep of complexity.

25-40: Threat of complexity – If productivity isn’t suffering now it soon will be. Identify your key priorities and target improvements in simplicity over the next three months.

Less than 25: Overgrown complexity – Your organisation has low productivity and is spinning its wheels. You need to work hard to focus your efforts and drive greater simplicity immediately.

© Stuart Cross 2009. All rights reserved.