Why So Complicated? Go Simple!

Simplicity, Child Stares at Art (Stuart)
Photo by author, all rights reserved.

The world is complicated.  Do corporate leaders think this is a good thing? No, they do not.  There is an emerging effort to put a greater priority on keeping things simple, while human resources leaders get their people to adapt to changes in the nature of work.

In June of 2014, Josh Bersin developed a fresh opinion that simplicity is the next big thing.  (You’ll need to click past the Forbes pop-up screen, but then you’re in)  Large global corporations were at the time expanding their business, organizing mergers and restructuring efforts, and putting talent management ahead of cost reduction.  There was also a pre-existing struggle to redesign performance management, reduce workload for overwhelmed employees, and create a stronger and more integrated workplace culture.

Bersin notes “We have inadvertently become far too enamored with our technology, mobile phones, social networks, photos, video sharing tools, and all the various competency models, frameworks, process diagrams, and workflows we design in HR.”  Indeed.

By contrast, some organizations have put a lot of effort into simplifying their approach.  This could include reducing the number of competencies they encourage from seven to four, or reducing the performance management process to three simple steps, or creating apps that attach to their HRIS where the apps accomplish just one thing.  Solutions become smaller items that almost belong on Etsy.

For those of you who have written a one-sentence email to an executive it is obvious that keeping it simple is more work, not less.  Designing simple things for a lay audience also requires a special perspective and a devotion to good design.  Yet concentrating effort and attention to just one thing has obvious payoffs in focus and effectiveness.  I don’t have data.  In this case, you can go on instinct.

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