We reside in a time of abundance. Abundance of decisions, abundance of stuff, abundance of alternatives, abundance of aspirations, abundance of applied sciences, and above all, abundance of information and knowledge. There is simply a lot approaching our path that we don’t know anymore what to concentrate to and which decisions to make.
We expertise this in our non-public lives and as clients. We have a just about limitless vary of services and products to select from and are bombarded with data, information, ‘information’ and commercials about each second of our day via the common and social media.
And we expertise it in enterprise too. As enterprise chief there’s simply a lot data coming to us from inside and outdoors our organizations and there are such a lot of potential threats and alternatives to reply to, that there isn’t any manner of figuring out whether or not or not we’ve made the fitting decisions and choices.
As a end result, the principle problem in enterprise is now not to acquire and deploy scarce assets and capabilities or to create engaging services and products that clients like. Of course, these are nonetheless essential. They kind the cornerstone of worth creation and with out them no enterprise can exist. But the principle problem in the present day is okaynowing what to concentrate to and retaining your concentrate on that.
Nobel laureate Herbert Simon was conscious of this downside a very long time in the past. Already in 1971 he stated “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” That is precisely what we expertise in the present day, within the age of an excessive amount of. Due to all the knowledge we obtain, we’ve nice difficulties focusing our consideration.
In a way, the sphere of technique has at all times tried to cope with this difficulty. Missions and visions or formulating a ‘why’, for instance, are meant that will help you create focus in your group and direct the place the eye must be going. The similar applies to Porter’s generic methods (differentiation, value management and focus) and Treacy and Wiersema’s worth disciplines (product management, operational excellence and buyer intimacy). Their message is: decide one or possibly two and focus all of your consideration on that. Along the identical line, many technique instruments such because the SWOT, the balanced scorecard, the BCG matrix and the 5 forces framework are all doing the identical: all of them inform leaders what are the few most necessary issues they need to take note of.
The widespread denominator of those instruments is simplification. They radically simplify the enterprise world by dividing it in three, 4 or 5 classes that leaders ought to take note of—typically within the type of two-by-two matrices. With the SWOT, for instance, you divide the world into strengths, weaknesses, alternatives and threats and let this information your technique. And with the BCG matrix, you divide the world into query marks, stars, money cows and canine and let that division information you in making key choices. And so on.
Managing consideration via simplification is good. Reducing the complexity to a handful of things to concentrate to feels good. It makes you’re feeling extra in management and that’s helpful. And simplification is critical too. We can’t probably take note of all the pieces and due to this fact want methods to simplify our world. But there’s a restrict. If they oversimplify an excessive amount of, our instruments do not work anymore.
Outside the sphere of technique we all know this. A very good metaphor is driving to a city the place you have got by no means been earlier than. To drive there you most likely use your navigation app, Google maps, or a standard map. All of those instruments are simplifications. Along the concept that “the map is not the territory” they omit numerous the small print of the true world to present you a transparent image of the place to go. But they’re nonetheless fairly complicated and comprise numerous details about the type of roads you’ll drive on, whether or not you drive via a rural or an city atmosphere, which exits to take, how far it’s, whether or not you may count on any delays, and so forth.
Imagine you’ll use a easy two-by-two matrix to get from A to B. We even have one: a compass. It divides the world into latitude and longitude and will let you know, for instance, that your vacation spot is 34.four levels North and 22.7 levels West. As such, it simplifies the complicated activity of getting from A to B to easy coordinates. The solely factor you then have to concentrate to is the course you’re driving.
But in case you have ever tried driving on a compass, you recognize this does not work. The downside is that, except you’re extraordinarily well-skilled, a compass is just too easy a device to get the job carried out. Driving from A to B isn’t just a matter of figuring out the latitude and longitude. Defining it as such abstracts an excessive amount of from the fact of driving in the true world. As a end result, a compass would not actually assist us clear up the issue.
The similar applies to enterprise and technique. It is an phantasm what we are able to simplify our world of abundance with easy fashions and count on these to assist us information our consideration and make choices. If a compass is already too easy for a comparatively easy activity as driving from A to B, there isn’t any manner that easy fashions like those above are sufficient to get the far more complicated job of getting our organizations from A to B carried out. We want extra superior instruments than that. Especially, we’d like extra correct maps and semi-automatic instruments that assist us inform the place to go and tips on how to get there.