Conquering Complexity in Your Business: How Wal-Mart, Toyota, and other Top Companies Are Breaking Through the Ceiling on Profits and Growth / Edition 1

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"The winners and losers in the next decade...may well be separated by a single factor: those that conquer complexity and those that do not."

- Michael L. George and Stephen A. Wilson

Here's a guarantee: Somewhere in your business, there is too much complexity. It erodes profitability, impedes productivity, confuses customers, and adds non-recoverable costs that can kill you in the marketplace. But that's only half the equation: You may also be losing out by having too little of the complexity where it counts—in the products, services, and options you offer to customers. Customers call this value-added complexity "variety", "options", or "customization". Either way, as you'll discover in Conquering Complexity in Your Business, the impact of complexity is enormous in terms of lost profit and missed growth opportunities.

In this breakthrough book from Michael L. George and Stephen A. Wilson, you'll find out why the trick to outperforming your competition and staying ahead of the curve in today's highly customer-centric business environment is achieving the optimum levels of complexity in your products, services, and operations. Best of all, for the first time in print, you'll find powerful tools that will let you quantify and pinpoint complexity in your business. You'll also find strategies for conquering that complexity and dramatically increasing productivity, profits and market share.

Conquering Complexity in Your Business is packed with real-world practical advice and guidance from both a strategic and tactical perspective. With the help of fascinating and instructive in-depth case studies from Dell, Capital One, Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart, Toyota, Scania, Lockheed Martin, Aldi, and other companies that have conquered complexity to become world leaders in their industries, the authors show you how to

  • Strategically identify the offering and process complexity in your business
  • Quantify the impact of that complexity
  • Decide which complexity you want to keep to drive growth and which to eliminate to cut costs
  • Select and implement specific operational approaches to eliminate different kinds of complexity
  • Sustain an environment with just the right balance of complexity your company needs to maximize productivity and profits

Don't let complexity impose a ceiling on your profits and growth. Read Conquering Complexity in Your Business and learn how to serve your customers more effectively, dominate your competition, and delight your shareholders.

"This is an important book that should be read by every CEO. Conquering Complexity is not just about reducing costs; it's fundamentally about growing revenues and creating economic value by serving your customers more effectively."—Lou Giuliano, Chairman, President and CEO, ITT Industries

"Complexity creeps into organizations incrementally, and each additional decision is, by itself, almost always justifiable. But faced with a crisis, many companies, including American Airlines, have chosen a head-on approach to removing complexity—we simply could not afford to do otherwise."—Gerard J. Arpey, President and CEO, AMR Corporation and American Airlines

"As we tackle the most resistant issues in the company, it is clear that complexity is a key causal. The challenge is getting our arms around the cost of complexity. Being able to size the opportunity creates a compelling call to action."—Anne M. Mulcahy, Chairman and CEO, Xerox Corporation

"It is critical that the authors' study and analysis gets outs to a wider audience to explain how complexity occurs and more importantly, how to both attack it and prevent it."—Chris Cool, Vice President, Northrup-Grumman Corporation

Many managers and executives intuitively understand that the benefits from conquering complexity can be huge. But only a handful worldwide know to how to precisely measure, manage, and profit from complexity. Now, with Conquering Complexity in Your Business, a breakthrough book from complexity gurus Michael L. George and Stephen A. Wilson, all of that changes. Learn how to break through the ceiling on your company's profits and growth.

For more information about Conquering Complexity, please visit our website at

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Editorial Reviews

Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Almost every business is burdened with too much complexity that makes it less profitable and less productive than it can be. To help organizations quantify the cost of complexity and find strategies for eliminating it where it is unnecessary, business leaders from George Group, Michael L. George and Stephen A. Wilson, offer tools companies can use to serve customers more effectively. Conquering Complexity in Your Business presents specific operational approaches to creating a balance of complexity. Copyright © 2004 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071435086
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/1/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,037,570
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael George (Dallas, TX) is the author of Lean Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma for Services . He is founder and CEO of George Group, a consulting company that delivers rapid and sustained improvements in shareholder value through unique methodologies. George Group is the global leader in Lean Six Sigma.

Stephen Wilson (Dallas, TX) is the director of the Cost of Complexity practice at the George Group. He also has expertise in strategy development, Valued Based Management and Lean Six Sigma, the process improvement methodology. He holds an MBA in Strategy and Finance from the Wharton School.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Complexity : the silent killer of profits and growth
Ch. 1 The overwhelming case for conquering complexity 3
Ch. 2 Exposing the silent killer : how (and how much) complexity drains time and resources in your business 25
Ch. 3 How complexity slows the flow of critical information 41
Ch. 4 How conquering complexity drives shareholder value 53
Ch. 5 Complexity as a strategic weapon 71
Pt. II Complexity analysis : quantifying and prioritizing your complexity opportunities
Executive overview of complexity analysis 86
Ch. 6 Identify strategic complexity targets (complexity analysis phase 1) 89
Ch. 7 Map & quantify the impact of complexity (complexity analysis phase 2) 115
Ch. 8 Build a complexity value agenda (complexity analysis phase 3) 143
Pt. III Implementing complexity agendas
Ch. 9 Simplifying product and service lines : going for big gains in economic profit 181
Ch. 10 Finding the complexity that customers value 207
Ch. 11 Avoiding the big costs : using complexity principles to simplify product designs 227
Ch. 12 Achieving service and process simplicity : optimizing work flow with Lean, Six Sigma, and complexity tools 247
Ch. 13 Using information technology to deliver complexity at lower cost 261
Pt. IV High-return investments when conquering complexity
Ch. 14 Creating a culture that can conquer complexity 277
Ch. 15 Conquering complexity in your product and service value chain 291
Ch. 16 Applying complexity principles to mergers and acquisitions 309
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