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Complexity Reduction and Organisation

Organisations, like all systems, cannot react or process everything. They must reduce the complexity of the world. For example: Siemens does not study the South of France Dairy Newspaper because this imparts information which Siemens can safely ignore. To reduce external complexity, organisations must produce internal complexity so that they can structure a self-selected task in such a way that it can be processed, coordinated and produced mostly error free, and within a fitting time frame. Therefore it requires a basic stock of decisions which relate to each other and no longer need to be questioned on a daily basis (decision premises): We build motorised saws, call ourselves XYZ, explain who carries out which function and who must complete what and when.

The inevitable disadvantage is, that an organisation cannot know whether the subsequent partial blindness which it must accept in itself, is favourable or unfavourable. This reduction, which enables them to see and act effectively, at the same time partially blinds them. Organisations overlook trends, underestimate factors for success, and forget that much can also be done quite differently. Once organisations have embarked upon a form of complexity reduction, they won’t easily be swayed from this position.

Through the prism of theory, this is a significant reason why organisations, like all systems, would do well to seek external advice. It is to be expected that internal employees, who may well see something important, new, critical or innovative which the organisation does not see, will not be heard, either. Communication connects to that which is easy to understand. But if an external person sees and says the same thing, it often becomes relevant, because more effort is invested in understanding the unfamiliar person.