De-clutter the complexity

From the economist

Some clutter is inevitable. The point of companies is to get people to achieve collectively what they cannot do individually, so some meetings and memos will be needed to co-ordinate them. Complexity may often be the price of success: companies that have grown to great size and operate in many markets face far more complicated problems than smaller ones operating on home turf. But Drucker was surely right that co-ordination has a tendency to degenerate into clutter. Meetings multiply. Managers build empires. And clutter feeds on itself. Bain calculates that adding a new mid-level manager creates enough work for half an assistant. Adding a new senior vice-president creates enough work for one and a half assistants.

Clutter is taking a toll on both morale and productivity. Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School studied the daily routines of more than 230 people who work on projects that require creativity. As might have been expected, she found that their ability to think creatively fell markedly if their working days were punctuated with meetings. They did far better if left to focus on their projects without interruption for a large chunk of the day, and had to collaborate with no more than one colleague


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