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Getting to grips with complexity

July 16, 2019

“An organisational tendency to cultivate complexity.”

That expression comes from Australian Bank Westpac in a self assessment into its internal culture, governance and accountability.

How many large, mature organisations wouldn’t find the same? People and professions tend to flourish on complexity. It justifies their position. It represents status and power. It makes them special.

Contracts and contracting processes are a case in point. They are a mystery to most people and practitioners regularly observe the steady growth of complexity. This takes a variety of forms – more complicated terms, longer agreements, the impact of increased regulation and risk management, more review and approval.

But is this growth of complexity inevitable, or is it that most organizations share the Westpac tendency to ‘cultivate complexity?’ How many of us truly aim to simplify, to see our role as having a responsibility to challenge and eliminate complexity – not just on a periodic basis, but as a core value of what we do?

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