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June 2019
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TD Magazine

Problem Solved!

Cracking Complexity: The Breakthrough Formula for Solving Just About Anything Fast


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By David Benjamin and David Komlos
Nicholas Brealey, 256 pp., $29.95

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Cracking Complexity is targeted at CEOs and high-level executives. The book, based on complexity research and the authors' work as consultants, focuses on the 10-step Complexity Formula and its ability to crack complexity every time—fast. The opening chapters promise, in no uncertain terms, that the formula, when executed exactly as prescribed, will work 100 percent of the time. This is reminiscent of a Harry Potter potion or spell and comes across as utterly fictional; if it didn't work, it's because you did it wrong, not because magic isn't real.

Complexity is defined well in the book; it's a different animal than complicated things. Fixing a car or planning a wedding are complicated, but there are known, step-by-step solutions. Successfully marketing a car and making your marriage work are complex; there are no known steps or user manuals. When you encounter complexity at work, this book can be your step-by-step guide to solve it quickly.

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The steps offer an effective method for leaders to move the needle at a much quicker pace than large corporations have typically been able to muster. The formula is somewhat complicated in its recommendation for who leaders must include in the massive, multiday brainstorming sessions, but perhaps even more beneficial than the wide variety of experiences and personality types this results in is the important coalition building that would occur. The formula's biggest strength may well be its strong foundation in change management, ensuring that any solutions that do arise can be implemented quickly on a broad scale without major employee pushback.

The 10 thoroughly described steps offer leaders facing enormous challenges a solid path forward, from helping define the complexity to a clear directive on how to get out of your own way and let your newly constructed coalition set the right agenda and allow their ideas to collide.

If you're a leader facing complexity (and let's face it, who isn't facing complexity these days?), I recommend you read this book and focus on the ways that your strengths as a leader can artfully implement these steps to produce good results and a strong foundation for change. I suggest rushing through the first 40 pages of promises and theory but carefully applying what is likely great strategy for hardcore brainstorming and coalition building. I needn't suspend my disbelief to have confidence in this system for solution generation that whole companies can buy into quickly.

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About the Author

Marci Morford is a learning strategist and leads MarSea Consulting, designing effective and scalable learning solutions for midmarket companies. She specializes in outstanding onboarding experiences for company-wide orientation and position-based new hire training.

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