Disguising Value with Complexity

There’s a game that I see played out with startups, small businesses and corporations. And it’s a game that can full manages, employers and owners with relative ease. I’m not sure why people like to be fooled. But the game is ubiquitous.

When I look into a business, I tend to be a reductionist. I make complex things simple. This is why my clients trust me to help them scale and grow their businesses with both advice and execution.

But the other game at play works in the opposite direction with employees that want job security. It is a game of disguising value with complexity. The more complexity that can be introduced, the more job security a person has. It’s an intuition and truism that is not lost on those that are more functional in their roles on a team.

As an owner, you may not see it. You may see the necessity of using Microsoft Exchange or some complex system. Your salespeople may sell you harder than outside prospects because it’s easier. They can convince you of the necessity of extra costs such as software, travel and overhead. After all, it’s not their cost. It’s yours.

And the more complex and dependent a system is on a person, the more job security they feel that they have.

Ultimately, while widespread, this is less an issue with employees that are being shrewd and more the lack of vigilance of the business owner or executive. Not doing your homework and understanding how something can be much more elegant, productive and simpler keeps you beholden to the little spider web of complexity that someone who wants to keep power and longevity has created.

So, some challenging questions to think about:

  • Do things have to be set up the way they are? Why do you let them?
  • Can you do with less? What would that look like?
  • Will those that are the gatekeepers of complexity really advise you of something simpler and cost effective? Does it work against their economic interest?
  • If you had to start your operation over, what are the bare minimum necessities required? Why do you have more?

Just because something is in play doesn’t mean it has to persist forever. That’s the trap. Create the precedent and the undoing of it becomes pure hellish inertia to overcome later.

Have you considered what scaling down might look like and how it can create immense lift?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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