Yves Morieux at NILF 2017 – Creating value in an age of increased complexity


We keep colliding with “VUCA”. The term may be at our beck and call even though we may not fully understand its future impact. Like many other terms bandied around, this too has its roots in the army – the US army to be specific. It was coined during the Cold War and spilled into Afghanistan afterwards. Decades later and especially now, business leaders are engaged in strategizing in a volatile environment.

Yves Morieux from BCG started his keynote address at NILF 2017 on this brief history and set the context – creating value in an age of increased complexity

The task before us is about organising ourselves in a complex environment, which also is the very basis of Change Management. Change, after all, has always been synonymous with human progress. So VUCA is really a lever for us to reach the next level.

The world is getting more complex:

  • More stakeholders and more demands.
  • More customers with more choices.
  • More markets at home and abroad.
  • More requirements.
  • More difficult to create value.
  • More conflicting demands and faster changes.

A direct outcome of this “crisis” is the impact on productivity. Despite disrupting technologies doing rounds riding on globalisation, and yet, productivity curve is on the decline. Make no mistake, productivity is fundamental to our society, and it will not suffice to only have the best of products but with falling productivity levels.

We now come to the idea of happiness. When you go home, do your children ask you, “Dad were you productive today?” Nooo, that would be ridiculous! They’d probably ask, “Dad, how was your day?” Studies reveal that in Europe, less than one-fourth of workers feel engaged. Europe is certainly not an outlier. Even in US the index for “Satisfaction at work” isn’t all that good. Why are engagement levels low all around, and leading to so much unhappiness? Has it got something to do with aggravating nature of work-relate problems that humans constantly grapple with?

This brings us to the next idea. If one wishes to be more productive, then work will have to be managed and organized innovatively through a differentiated approach which is also simplified. Extending this idea further – companies in future, if they want to succeed, will have to create structures and processes accordingly (innovatively).

We all understand this. We also understand that things have to be less complex, and in our bid to achieve it, we have ended up bringing in more complexity. Simplicity is about intelligence, common sense, problem solving, energy and learning. Simplified systems will have to bring in all these factors together. If all these attributes can be bound together, we are likely to see high engagement levels. Ultimately, models can only create value if engagement levels are high. As needs continue to expand, meeting them would be through partnerships and co-creation. However, co-creation may also lead to conflicts. Although, it can be avoided.

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