Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

—Leonardo da Vinci

While on the phone with Rachelle, a senior learning and development executive for a global manufacturer, our conversation turned to her company's workplace competencies. Workplace competencies refer to behaviors or skills that are used to define and measure an employee's effectiveness.

Rachelle casually mentioned that her company uses 600 different formal competencies.

Yes, you read that right: 600.

How can anyone possibly remember 600 of anything?

Rachelle and the 600 competencies are but a symptom of a larger disease. Accelerating growth and technologies have created a new organizational malady: complexity. Leaders and employees alike are feeling overloaded and overwhelmed.

For the past few years, I've been helping people escape the complexity trap. I've had the good fortune to work with Lisa Bodell, CEO of Futurethink and author of the bestselling book Why Simple Wins. Lisa spent five years researching her book on overcoming complexity. We then teamed up to bring the content in workshop form to numerous organizations. My thinking owes a debt to Lisa and all the leaders who've participated in the Killing Complexity workshops.


It's ironic, but with all the new technology, software, and applications people have access to, what do people crave most? Ease of use. Consider your own experience. For example, if you visit a website that's confusing to navigate, what ...

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