What is organisational complexity?
Complexity is not solely an issue for organisations of scale or for those with complex multi divisional or matrix structures. This is an issue for organisations irrespective of scale due to range of factors such as the growth of e-commerce, changing consumer behaviour, the regulatory burden and the globalisation of business. Furthermore, complexity is not just a consideration in transformational organisational change activity, business restructuring or M&A activity.
Organisational complexity is manifested in organisational structures, systems, processes and in communication flows. It therefore, has clear implications for internal organisational efficiency, organisational effectiveness, departmental interaction and even customer service.
Complexity can therefore result in a myriad of tensions and result in actual internal conflict and to conflicts of interest and of conscience. In an organisation with a matrix structure for example, there are regular conflicts between meeting the needs of the functional manager and that of the operational manager. Hospital consultants may experience the conflicting “logic” of the patient care which they want to provide verses the actual reality which commercial pressures present for them in terms of the resources available. When it comes to patient care therefore, the “professional logic” conflicts with the “commercial logic” adding to greater internal complexity.
Organisational complexity is not solely an issue for operational leaders to consider when creating structures, systems, processes and in organisational change. HR has a tangible and active role to play.