Complicated > Be Careful....Complex > Avoid

Ed Marsh | Oct 19, 2011

A Natural Reaction

In their interesting article "Learning to Live with Complexity" in the September, 2011 Harvard Business Review, Gökçe Sargut and Rita Gunther McGrath identify discriminators between "complicated" and "complex" issues.


The former are challenging and "have many moving parts, but they operate in patterned ways."  The latter, "by contrast, are imbued with features which may operate in patterned ways but whose interactions are continually changing....multiplicity...interdependence...(and) diversity" are the characteristics which they contend ultimately determine the degree of complexity.  


The View from American Business

You remember that American business entrepreneur that was "born with the silver spoon in his mouth."  His domestic market was so huge he never had to look outwardly.  There is no end of hypothesizing by the US Government DoC folks and many others on why American businesses seem so reticent to export even as globalization lowers barriers and infinite domestic market growth is hardly assured.


Maybe the answer isn't ignorance as some assert; nor lack of need as others have postulated.  I suggest that Sargut and Gunther McGrath have found the issue.  American business executives sense the difference between their own "complicated" business which they manage and the "complex" global market which is beyond their common scope.


Complex AND Manageable

They're right.  It is a different world with different risks (and not as simply managed).  As much as folks like us contribute to the background refrain of "it's not complicated" we inadvertently add to the background angst...and we don't even use the right term!


Your current business is complicated.  Undertaking a global initiative is complex - and that is the reason many hesitate and others who undertake it grow frustrated and in the end have only an unrelated handful of ad-hoc overseas relationships with little return on their investment.


HOWEVER - the risks are manageable and the potential rewards are substantial.  You've heard the litany of reasons why you should export.


So let us take the complex and take you through it in manageable chunks on the way to building a substantial new facet of your business - or invigorating one which has never achieved its potential.  Engage us.