3. Addressing complexity requires a systemic view—across product, process and organizational dimensions
Tackling complexity demands a different approach—and a different perspective. In Waging War on Complexity Costs, we introduced the Complexity Cube. This simple diagram has continued to be a helpful framework for explaining the nature of complexity, illustrating the relationship between complexity and complexity costs. While it is possible to define complexity across three dimensions (product, process and organization), the impacts, or costs, of complexity live at the interactions. For example, when a manufacturer adds a new product to a line, it requires additional setups, increased inventory, more transportation and warehouse storage—non-value added costs within the process driven by the additional variety (’product-process complexity’).
The more pieces you have, and the more different and interconnected they are, the more complex your organization is. The cube underscores that the only way to attack a systemic issue is with a holistic approach.