less is more: very much true. one of the over-quoted and under-used elements of beauty in #organisationdesign

“In der Beschränkung zeigt sich erst der Meister” and a Master Mies van der Rohe was. Mies inspired, and still does, many  designers with his credo ‘less is more’. Essential design, leaving out the things that do not matter, elegance, strong forms are key words in a design where genius has made complexity simple. Results of less are not only a feast for the eye and the mind, it also makes economic and environmental sense to leave out the waste.

But Mies was not a management thinker or guru, and that is a pity when it comes to organisation design. In building organizations the meaning of less is more has never landed as it did in design. It might be frequently quoted , but it is seldom applied. The reasons be it is hard work and some of the consequences may be hard to live with.

The sophistication of management is more often measured by the extension of job descriptions with accompanying complex remuneration schemes, the complexity of organisation charts with dotted lines, the thickness of the deck of strategy sheets or the level of detail in the service level agreements, than that is measured by clarity and conciseness. Making choices, defining what really matters, constraining elaborations, deepening understanding, imagining what not yet exists, does take time and is indeed not effortless.

Yet simple responsibilities that mirror the basic value creation of an organisation, the one page document that states the relationship with the stakeholders, the four word strategy, the three-minute trailer-like video about values and transparent decision processes, to name a few examples of less in organisation design, do not reduce the sophistication of an organisation, but increases it. And there is a considerable chance that people experience beauty instead of blur.

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