From Publishers Weekly
When Thoreaus injunction to simplify, simplify, is translated into the context of business management, the result is this labyrinthine treatise. George, author of Lean Six Sigma, and "complexity expert" Wilson contend that overcomplication is an insidious drain on businesses. A proliferation of product and service offerings intended to boost business actually imposes hidden costs and masks the unprofitability of stagnating lines, while consumers are often baffled and irritated by the plethora of superficially distinct options. The authors cure for complexity, however, seems almost as complicated as the disease. They offer a maze of arcane diagnostic tools for assessing the complexity and profitability of products, services and customers, along with advice on how to simplify, standardize or eliminate them altogether, and pile on mathematical equations, byzantine flowcharts and highly technical case studies ("at 50KW the DC voltage doubled, cutting the current in halfwhich meant the design for the lower power ratings could be used all the way to 80KW"). They provide a number of useful insights, actually, although lumping them under the trendy rubric of "complexity" doesnt add much conceptual rigor. Unfortunately, the method of quantitatively analyzing the profit impact of minute components of larger processes seems itself an onerous layer of complexity to add to the project of simplifying business practices. The accountants and process design engineers who might read the book will find much food for thought, but are also likely to put it aside when it comes time to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
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The authors are experts on the Six Sigma and Lean Production methods used to increase efficiency, cut costs, and improve resource use in corporate environments and have written extensively on techniques for improving speed and quality. Here they make the case that every business harbors too much complexity, a "silent killer" that increases costs and drains profits and resources. The methods they offer to expose complexity could be the the next big strategic business weapon--dominant companies such as Wal-Mart, Toyota, Dell Computer, and Capitol One are already using these techniques to great success. Although some of the concepts presented are easy to understand, such as reducing the number of steps in production, reducing waste, and creating standardized tasks and procedures, others are quite advanced (functional analysis, cojoint analysis, exploiting commonality), and there are numerous equations and diagrams that require a mathematical mind to comprehend. This timely research has much to offer medium-sized to large businesses. David SiegfriedCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved