Summary of Simply Effective

How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done

Harvard Business Review Press, more...

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Simply Effective  book summary
Both spotlight and scalpel, this pragmatic text shows how to find the complexity in your business and how to cut it out.


9 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


As it should be, this book on simplicity is straightforward. Ron Ashkenas, a teacher at heart, mixes informative bits of the history of organizational management with incisive descriptions of top companies. He knows some of these companies intimately and helped them apply the strategies he articulates. He moves smoothly from the corporate level to the individual level. Sure, Ashkenas wants firms to do better, but that also requires managers to buck up and fix their own bad habits. This book is descriptive and pragmatic, outlining “what is wrong with your system” and “how to fix it.” Ashkenas’s diagnostic tools will help those who want to start productive dialogues at work. Chapter 5, on “curbing complexity-causing behaviors” is worth the price of admission. You could readily convert its detailed description of what managers should or shouldn’t do into a developmental continuum to help measure your firm’s progress toward simplification. getAbstract recommends this book to managers at every level because it really might make the world a better – or, at least, a simpler – place while improving the bottom line.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to spot complexity in your firm and in your actions
  • How to tackle complex processes and “product proliferation,”
  • How to drive simplicity


The Complexity Trap
Whether you are the CEO of a large multinational corporation or a middle manager at a small firm, you cannot afford to allow complexity to flourish in your organization.

It compromises results, hampers your employees and confuses customers. Since complexity...
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About the Author

Ron Ashkenas is a senior partner at Schaffer Consulting. He co-authored The Boundaryless Organization,The GE Work-Out and Rapid Results.

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