The always interesting JP Rangaswami, former CIO and now chief of Alternative Market Models at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, struck a chord in his recent post dealing with the triad of control, complexity and sprawling bigness.
There is considerable organisational inertia to task redefinition, de-sequencing and re-sequencing, as people desperately try and hold on to fiefdoms and power bases built around particular task definitions and sequences. As a result, things are done sequentially where they don’t need to be done sequentially. This false sequencing yields an unsolvable complexity and an immense amount of wasted energy, repeat work, even completely unnecessary work. Which in turn demotivates the workers and reduces task completion quality and increases task completion time. Workers aren’t stupid, soon you have apathy.
And I guess apathy is the hierarchical organisation’s equivalent of anarchy.
Big is necessary for Complex. But only when Complex itself is necessary. What I worry about is how often Complex is a construct of past hierarchies rather than a genuine need to solve a problem. I’ve heard phrases like “Don’t Allocate, Isolate”, “Don’t Automate, Obliterate” for a few decades now. I’ve even read HBR and related articles with similar titles that long ago. So why doesn’t it happen? Because of Unnecessary Complex.
As Einstein said, we need to keep things as simple as possible. But no simpler. So where there is a need for Big, Big can and should stay.
He concludes that the effects of Moore’s Law, Metcalfe’s Law, Gilder’s Law, the Web, SOA, virtualization, ongoing consolidation, overlayed with distributed computing, grid and P2P just might obliterate the "Unnecessary Complex."
Like dark matter--which was recently found in the luminous gas (red) separating from dark matter (blue) after the collision of two galaxy clusters 3 billion light years away--we now have evidence of an appropriately simpler, virtualized, utility computing-based future (em)powering the entire planet, reducing the insoluble complexity quotient, but exactly what constitutes this transformation and how it transpires remains to be seen.