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Make simplicity a strategic imperative

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Effective leaders know that even as a business is growing, it needs pruning—trimming old products and complex processes. Otherwise, unbridled growth can get out of control, like a garden overrun with weeds.

Example: Paris-based Schneider Electric, with its 100,000-plus employees, has made more than 80 acquisitions over the past five years. Yet its senior managers have made simplicity a strategic imperative.

Managers constantly look for simplification opportunities, such as consolidating operations, standardizing processes and reducing the number of stock keeping units (SKUs). As a result, Schneider Electric reported more than $450 million in savings at midyear.

Look at your own house. Have you been growing without streamlining?

— Adapted from “Too Big to Fail—Or Too Complicated to Succeed?” Ron Ashkenas,

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