Reducing Business Complexity to Speed Growth

In an increasingly complex and competitive world business are constantly fighting an opponent that is unyielding, unforgiving, and eternal. For those of you that don't remember your high-school physics class, we are referring to the second law of thermodynamics. Summarized all systems tend towards chaos.

You are probably seeing this in your business by the increasing complexity. Whether it is a specialized product for a few or even just one customer, to separate or divergent processes that require multiple levels of approval and review. How can information systems help with this problem? By understanding some basic concepts about computers.

  1. It is relatively cheap for a computer to handle a decision point. eg. If invoice is greater than $25k send to department VP, otherwise auto approve.
  2. Adding additional processing power (ability to scale) is cheap.
  3. Computers aren't good at answering the question "Is this reasonable, and does this make sense? What can we do about it?"

How can this apply to your business? Take the following example: You're running a fulfillment warehouse and based on an order's cost center the items are billed each division manager must be notified. Reports vary based on division. The fulfillment manager is currently handling this manually.

  1. Automate the generation of a common report
  2. Automate the generation of the specific reports
  3. Automatically send the emails

Wait, didn't you just push the complexity to the computer. Yes, but we reduced the complexity of the fulfillment manager's role. Information systems can be a large part of reducing the complexity of peoples roles allowing them to do the more human focused work. This must be a constant effort because overtime your business system will tend towards more entropy.