Some thoughts on organizational complexity

Dalton Caldwell on digesting complexity:

Whenever I deal with what feels like an overwhelming problem, or get spun out trying to make sense of the myriad potential things I could be doing better, or hear about a company having a tough time because of things like a founder falling out, lack of focus, employee infighting, bad hires, can’t hire fast enough, hired too fast, etc, I can’t help but think of this quote:

More companies die of indigestion than from starvation

David Packard

Years ago, when I first heard this quote, I dismissed it a useless platitude. However, the older I get, the more I have come to appreciate the wisdom contained within that short and simple statement.

It’s worth your time to read the whole essay.

Earlier in the piece, Dalton discusses large companies and uses Apple as an example. Clearly, he understands some of the tradeoffs we had there.

I would also mention that at Apple, we defied business orthodoxy by being a functional rather than divisional organization. Meaning we were organized by product focus like a much smaller company, rather than in discrete business units like some the size of IBM or General Motors. It certainly staved off the complexity of duplication that continues to plague other companies.