Nielsen: How to Capitalize on Complexity

This is the last in a series of articles examining a recent IBM study entitled Capitalizing on Complexity. The study, conclusions and recommendation are based on face-to-face conversations with more than 1,500 CEOs worldwide.

In the concluding section of the study, entitled How to Capitalize on Complexity, the authors state the following.

“For CEOs and their organizations, avoiding complexity is not an option — the choice comes in how they respond to it. Will they allow complexity to become a stifling force that slows responsiveness, overwhelms employees and customers, or threatens profits? Or do they have the creative leadership, customer relationships and operating dexterity to turn it into a true advantage?”

The combined insight from 1,541 for CEOs and their teams is summarized as follows:

Embody Creative Leadership:

  • Embrace ambiguity
  • Take risks that disrupt legacy business models
  • Leapfrog beyond “tried-and-true” management styles


Reinvent Customer Relationships:

  • Honor your customers above all else
  • Use two-way communications to sync with customers
  • Profit from the information explosion


Build Operating Dexterity:

  • Simplify whenever possible
  • Manage systemic complexity
  • Promote a mindset of being fast and flexible
  • Be “glocal”


IBM encourages leaders to use this comprehensive CEO study to spur ongoing discussions about how to navigate the hurdles of complexity and how to prosper because of it. Each of the points summarized above are discussed in detail.

I encourage anyone who is serious about healthcare leadership to carefully read the results of this study. I also encourage serious healthcare leaders to engage in thoughtful self, team and organization examination regarding the current and future implications of the results of this study.

It is easy to discount, or even ignore the perceptions and advice of one or even several CEOs. However, the collective wisdom, knowledge and expectations of 1,541 CEOs from around the world…? Required reading would be my advice!

The IBM study is available at no cost at   

Copyright © 2011 by Dan Nielsen,

Founder, National Institute for Healthcare Leadership

Cell 214-695-1292

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