In most organizations, meetings are too frequent, too long and too wandering for most people’s taste.  While there are lots of reasons for this (ahem, lack of clarity around the problem is a HUGE one), one momentum and energy reducer is unnecessary complexity. 

Underlying Reasons for Complexity

The following are some easily identifiable underlying reasons as to why team members tend to be enamored by complexity in solving problems and communicating with others:  

1. The goal is unclear.

When the goal is unclear, more information becomes the target. The belief that more data, more information will lead to clarity. In those situations, context is incredibly valuable in solving problems…AND powerful context turns into interesting stories when the mission/goal isn’t clear.

In referencing “mission,” I’m not speaking to big picture mission. I’m speaking to the very direct and tangible missions in play for the conversations we have every day. Planning a trip, picking a restaurant, providing a piece of information to the customer, completing an internal audit or having a high stakes conversation. The more we can help team members understand the goal of the conversation or meeting, the better everyone will be set up for reducing complexity.   

2. Introducing complexity can be a means of making people feel knowledgeable.

Chris Brogan talks about the concept that complexity is born out of ego. Since the team member knows x, y and z, therefore they must be capable. But the reality is that knowledge doesn’t necessarily indicate capability. Capability is more often driven from being able to narrow down the relevant information to help inform direction.   

3. Complexity provides a reason to not take action.

If there are lots of layers and players involved, the best way to avoid executing is to keep talking. After all, the talking stage is relatively safe. Rarely does someone take any blame in the talking stage. It’s in the execution stage where things get dicey. But what I’ve found is that MORE talking doesn’t necessarily increase the quality of the plan. It’s rather a way to avoid taking action and therefore risk.   

Clarity, security and action. These three are the antidotes to complexity. It’s my high encouragement when you see this occurring in the moment or on a frequent basis to lean into the hard conversation. It’s worth it!!  

Cheers to reducing complexity!!

Josh Block

Author Josh Block

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